Joint commands - How to unify defence resources?

  • Category
    Internal Security
  • Published
    18th Mar, 2020

A peninsula command for maritime threat, a separate command for Jammu and Kashmir and the need to have a focused command for China is part of the blueprint for joint theatre commands that are part of the major restructuring exercise.

Context

A peninsula command for maritime threat, a separate command for Jammu and Kashmir and the need to have a focused command for China is part of the blueprint for joint theatre commands that are part of the major restructuring exercise.

About

  • The concept of Joint Command is a unified command in which the resources of all the services are unified under a single commander looking at a geographical theatre.
  • It means that a single military commander, as per the requirements, will have the resources of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force to manage a security threat.
  • The commander of a joint command will have the freedom to train and equip his command as per the objective and will have logistics of all the services at his beckoning.
  • The three services will retain their independent identities as well.
  • There are two tri-services commands at the moment.
  • The joint command at the moment, the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), is a theatre command, which is headed by the chiefs of the three services in rotation. It was created in 2001 after a Group of Ministers had reported on national security following the Kargil War.
  • The Strategic Forces Command was established in 2006 and is a functional tri-services command.

What is the current structure?

  • There are 17 commands (excluding tri-service commands), divided among the three services. The Army and the Air Force have seven commands each, while the Navy has three commands.
    • Army: The commands under the Army are Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, Central, South-western and the Army Training Command.
    • Air-Force: The Air Force has Eastern, Western, Southern, South-western, Central, Maintenance and Training commands.
    • Navy: The Navy is divided into Western, Eastern and Southern commands.
    • These commands report to their respective services and are headed by three-star officers.
    • Though these commands are in the same regions, they are no located together.
  • Apart from the above, there are only two of these are tri-service commands. These are the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Strategic Forces Command, which is in charge of nuclear assets.

How do joint commands help?

  • One of the main advantages is that the leader of unified command has control over more varied resources, compared to the heads of the commands under the services now.
  • For instance, the head of one of the proposed commands, Air Defence Command, will have under him naval and Army resources, too, which can be used as per the threat perception.
  • And the officer commanding the Pakistan or China border will have access to the Air Force’s fighter jets and can use them if needed.
  • The other key advantage is that through such integration and jointness the three forces will be able to avoid duplication of resources.
  • The resources available under each service will be available to other services too.
  • The services will get to know one another better, strengthening cohesion in the defence establishment.

Do militaries of other countries have such commands?

  • Several major militaries are divided into integrated theatre commands.
  • China’s People’s Liberation Army has five theatre commands: Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern and Central. Its Western Theatre Command is responsible for India.
  • The US Armed Forces have 11 unified commands, of which seven are geographic and four functional commands.
  • Its geographic commands are Africa, Central, European, Indo-Pacific, Northern, Southern and Space. Cyber, Special Operations, Transportation and Strategic are its functional commands.
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