Indian Air Force objects to CDS Gen Rawat’s plan for theatre commands

The creation of theatre commands has been a priority for the Modi government

As the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat works towards the reorganization of Indian defence forces into theatre commands, differences have emerged between the three services- army, navy and air force over the issue. According to a report in Hindustan Times, while the Indian Army and the Indian Navy have expressed their support for the creation of theatre commands, the Indian Air Force is reluctant to join the process due to fears of air assets getting divided and the dilution of powers of the Air Chief. General Bipin Rawat has called a meeting of the three forces on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

The creation of theatre commands has been a priority for the Modi government. The plan also assumes significance considering that across the LAC, China has already completed the process of creating five theatre commands while Pakistan has also been seeking guidance from China for the same. The majority of the world’s defence forces are organized under theatre commands, including that of the United States.

India currently plans to create 5 such commands- three land-based, 1 air defence command, and 1 maritime command. Each command would be operating under a theatre commander. The creation of theatre commands would bring synergy in operations between the three forces and lead to optimal use of resources.

However, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has expressed many objections to the plan. The biggest concern for the IAF is the dilution of the powers of the Air Chief as the theatre commanders would report directly to the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which would include the 3 chiefs as members. It also has concerns regarding its airpower getting divided and the rotation for the post of theatre commanders between the three forces.

Considering the hesitancy of the Air Force, General Bipin Rawat has called a meeting of all three services and other relevant stakeholders on Wednesday. The maritime and air defence commands are expected to be raised this year after receiving approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

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