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Peninsular command by next year end, says General Rawat

General Bipin Rawat

General Bipin Rawat  

Jammu and Kashmir will be a separate theatre command, says the Chief of Defence Staff

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Monday spelled out a road map for restructuring the Armed Forces that would holistically counter threats along the borders with China and Pakistan as well as in the Indian Ocean, backed by logistical agreements with other countries.

General Rawat said that an Indian Ocean-centered Peninsular Command, possibly formed by merging the Eastern and Western Naval Commands, should start shaping up by the end of next year.

“Security of peninsular India should be the responsibility of one Commander. Can we integrate the Eastern and Western Naval Commands and call it Peninsular Command? We will be issuing study directives for the Peninsular Command by March 31,” Gen. Rawat said in an interaction with mediapersons here on Monday.

The study will look at earmarking some assets of the Army and the IAF for deployment under the Peninsular Command.

Gen. Rawat pointed out that the Chief of Naval Staff must look at the “big picture”, and stressed that the “Indian Ocean region is one entity”.

Military diplomacy

He added that military diplomacy also must be prioritised — an observation that coincided with the departure of the Naval Chief, Admiral Karambir Singh, to Myanmar on Monday.

Gen. Rawat said India has signed several logistics agreements with a number of countries, which should be leveraged for operational turnaround. “We will work with other Navies to see how we can work with them...for logistical support,” he observed.

Elaborating on tri-service theatre commands, General Rawat said that one or two theatre commands will man the border with China. With Pakistan as the focus on the western front, he said, “Jammu and Kashmir should be a separate theatre, including the IB (International Boundary) part. Balance of Western theatre is another command.”

The CDS clarified that the Navy should focus on submarines, and a third aircraft carrier was not an immediate priority. In response to a question on the IAF’s tender for 114 fighter jets, Gen. Rawat said, “It has to be staggered.”

He added that the government was not inclined to look at single big-ticket purchases. “I feel you should never go in for large numbers in one go,” he said.

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