Fighting together: Only the political leadership can clear the way for joint theatre commands

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News: The new navy chief, Admiral R Hari Kumar, recently said that the US military took 50 years to achieve its joint command structure. Although he clarified that he wasn’t implying that it would take a similar amount of time to establish India’s joint theatre commands, his stress was on highlighting the complexities involved.

What India needs to do to effect theaterization?

Services need to shift from their present individual war fighting structure to training their personnel to operate under joint command.

Consolidation of warfighting assets and streamlining of personnel to make the services leaner, better trained and agile.

Reshaping of the current pyramidal command structure: Theatrisation would need both a clear chain of command and some degree of dilution of hierarchies, while dissolving turf boundaries. For instance,

It’s still not clear whether the political leadership should communicate with the chief of defence staff, service chiefs or the prospective theatre commanders

There’s also the issue of ownership of assets and their allocation to the joint commands.

What is the way forward?

The political leadership should take a decisive call on operational matters and clearly lay out responsibilities. Otherwise, theatrisation will be mired in inter-services tussles, defeating its very purpose.

Must Read: Integrated Theatre Commands in India – Explained, pointwise

Source: This post is based on the article “Fighting together: Only the political leadership can clear the way for joint theatre commands” published in TOI on 6th Dec 2021.

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