India’s next Chief of Defense Staff and his responsibilities

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Rethinking Rawat’s integration design?

However, the process of military integration is in a way engaged. There is a plan, albeit favorable to the military, that Rawat and the IDS have worked on. Consider the pattern Rawat publicly sketched out on September 15. He envisions four theater commands – for the Pakistani front, the Chinese front, national maritime security in the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, and the integrated command of Andaman and Nicobar. responsible for the defense of island territories. Furthermore, while cyber warfare and space / air defense have deserved separate commands, it is not so much the logistics, intelligence and special forces discussed earlier that are the necessary complements, along with cyber defense. and space / air defense, to theater commands.

This design has met enormous resistance from the armed services, and not just because it involves consolidating 17 military commands into just six commands – four theater commands plus the two commands for support functions, and the simultaneous loss of administrative and operational control by the heads of departments. . But because it seems, at first glance, sloppy and insufficiently thought out.

Besides, what is the point of dividing the orientation of the navy between the high seas and the “defense of the islands”, or the coast guard being relegated, implicitly, to a naval auxiliary? And why, in the field of maritime safety, the roles in coastal / brown waters do not fall under the bailiwick of the Coast Guard, the real missions in blue waters are they not the prerogative of the navy, and the Isn’t Andaman’s command responsible for consolidating the Indian military presence on either side of Malacca? , the Sunda and the Lumbok Strait? In this case, wouldn’t the objective of integration be better served with integration based on capabilities and missions? This would imply, for example, that the aeronautical assets of all Services are concentrated – with the exception of aircraft carriers – in separate national commands for ground support by helicopters and combat aircraft, air defense, strike and transportation.

Military integration is too important an issue for the Modi government to laugh at by implementing a bad plan. Hopefully the next CDS will present to the government for approval a more balanced and coherent interoperability plan with integrated commands based on capability and mission.

Bharat Karnad is Distinguished Fellow, United Service Institution of India, and Professor Emeritus in National Security Studies at the Center for Policy Research, Delhi. He is the most recent author of ‘Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambition’.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of BloombergQuint or its editorial team.


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