According to top officials cited by Indian Express, the Armed Forces have made progress in defining the integrated theatre commands. They have proposed the appointment of theatre commanders under a national defence committee, which is expected to be led by the Defence Minister.
The government's approval is still needed for the structures of the theatre commands, according to officials. There may be additional changes made for approval.
The objective of the theaterisation plans is to combine the Army, Navy, and Indian Air Force along with their resources into designated theatre commands.
Members of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) are expected to join the defence committee responsible for supervising the activities of theatre commanders, according to an official.
The COSC is composed of the three service chiefs and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). It is responsible for making important decisions regarding higher defense matters.
According to an official, the implementation of theaterisation plans will include the appointment of a Vice CDS and a Deputy CDS. These individuals will be responsible for overseeing various aspects of operations, intelligence and planning, training, procurements, and other Defense-related matters.
In previous discussions, there was consideration of assigning the roles of raising, training, and sustaining to the service chiefs, while giving the responsibility of operations to the theatre commanders.
However, a second official has indicated that there are ongoing discussions about the service chiefs potentially maintaining some operational roles.
According to the official, the theatre commands' basic structure is almost finalised, but there are still some decisions to be made regarding human resource matters.
According to officials, the plans for theaterisation involve not only the transformation of the three service headquarters but also their better integration overall.
Reportedly, three theatre commands will be established. One will be positioned towards Pakistan, another will be positioned towards China, and a maritime theatre command will be created to address maritime threats beyond the country's coastal borders. These theatre commands are expected to be situated in Jaipur, Lucknow, and Karwar.
There are discussions about potentially integrating existing tri-service agencies such as cyber, space, and the special operations division into a fourth theatre command in the future. This would involve upgrading these agencies to commands, but the plan is still in the early stages of discussion.
Limited cross-postings have already been implemented between the Army, Navy, and IAF to promote jointness. The restructuring of the headquarters and subsequent postings will occur after receiving final approval from the government, according to an official.
The Army and the IAF currently have seven commands each, while the Navy has three commands. Additionally, there are two tri-service commands, namely the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), along with the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQIDS).
One of the regular commands from each of the three services is expected to be elevated to a theatre command. The ongoing discussions involve incorporating the Andaman and Nicobar Command into the maritime theatre command, and placing the HQIDS under the CDS.
The independence of the SFC will be maintained as it continues its operations.
The remaining commands will continue to supervise their respective operational theatres, with a particular emphasis on improving collaboration among the three services in key areas including intelligence, logistics, training, and infrastructure.
CDS General Anil Chauhan is leading the efforts for theaterisation plans, which involve the examination of employing theatres in various operational scenarios. The three services have conducted multiple deliberations, studies, and table top exercises for this purpose.
The leadership of each theatre command is still uncertain. Previous plans for theatreisation included the establishment of an air defence command, but the Indian Air Force (IAF) objected, stating that it would divide their fighting assets.
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