Integrated Theatre Commands Explained. Defence & Internal Security System

Integrated Theater Commands:- 

The Indian Government is pursuing shaping Integrated venue orders as a component of changes completed in the military after the development of the post of the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS). The purpose of this article is to explain the importance of Integrated Theater Commands, their difficulties, and their benefits in security and safeguard processes.

What are Integrated Theatre Commands?

The integrated theatre command is a unified command of the three Services, under a single commander, in theaters (areas) of strategic and security concern.

  • As a result, the commander of such a force will be able to utilize all resources at his disposal, including the Army, Navy, and Indian Air Force, harmoniously. 
  • A commander of an integrated theater will not be accountable to individual Services, and he will be free to equip, train, and exercise it to make it a cohesive fighting force capable of achieving assigned targets.
  • There are currently no service-specific commands in the Indian military, as opposed to this model. All three branches of the Indian armed forces have their own commands across the country.
  • If war breaks out, each Chief of Staff will control his Service through individual commands, while the Service as a whole operates jointly.

How many commands are there currently?

  • There are currently seventeen commands in the Indian armed forces, including seven in the Army, three in the Air Force, and three in the Navy.
  • Every command is headed by a 4-star rank military officer.
  • Coordination of operations takes place at Service Headquarters through the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), which is headed by the senior-most Service Chief as COSC Chairman.
  • COSC chairman is the chief of his Service and also the chairman of COSC.

The following table gives the various commands of the military forces:

ARMY

IAF

NAVY

  1. Northern
  2. Eastern
  3. Southern
  4. Western
  5. Central
  6. South-western
  7. Army Training Command
  1. Western
  2. Eastern
  3. Southern
  4. South-western
  5. Central
  6. Training 
  7. Maintenance
  1. Western
  2. Eastern
  3. Southern
  • Currently, there are two tri-service commands:
    • Strategic Forces Command (SFC)
    • Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC)
  • Officers from the 3 Services rotate in charge of the tri-services commands.
  • The ANC is the only integrated theatre command in India.
    • By enhancing the rapid deployment of military assets in the islands, the unit was created in 2001 in order to protect India’s strategic interests in Southeast Asia and the Strait of Malacca. It is in Port Blair.
  • The SFC handles the delivery and operational control of the country’s nuclear assets.
    • Since it has no specific geographic responsibility and no designated role, it is considered an integrated functional command and not an integrated theatre command.
    • SFC was created in 2003.
  • Similar functional commands, such as aerospace, cyber, and special operations, are also in demand.

Why do we need an Integrated Theatre Command

According to the Shekatkar Committee, three theater commands should be formed, namely, western for Pakistan, northern for China, and southern for the maritime role. It was also recommended that joint theatre commands be created by the Kargil Review Committee (1999), which was set up following the end of the Kargil War.

  • Integrated theatre commands enable the pooling of resources of all three services under a single commander in order to secure a geographic area. 
  • In the event of a national security threat, an Army, Navy, and Air Force commander will have access to resources from all three services.
  • The commander can also carry out joint training while benefiting from the logistics of all three services.
  • US military planners developed the concept of an integrated theatre command. The US has eleven unified commands. In 2016, China, emulating the US, reorganized its military into five joint theatre commands.
  • Given that India has the fourth-largest military in the world with each service acting independent of the other, the creation of integrated theatre commands is the need of the hour.

The Challenges of Integrated Theatre Command

Following are some of the challenges faced in implementing integrated theatre commands.

  • Structure of command: Who will report to who within the tri-services and joint theatre command configurations, and who will have operational command over personnel and machinery, service chiefs or theatre commanders is a question to be pondered over.
  • Shortage of resources within the Indian Air Force (IAF): The IAS has only 31 operational squadrons against the sanctioned strength of 42. This would make it difficult for the IAF to permanently station assets in a particular command with territorial boundaries.
  • Inter-services competition: Each service zealously oversees its own assets and strives for a greater share of the defence budget and influence, this might prove to be an obstacle in creating synergy among the services.
  • Limited experience: India’s lack of enough experience in integrated theatre commands will mean that as such commands evolve, some course corrections might be required.

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