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STRIVE organized the first General Bipin Rawat memorial lecture at the Surya Auditorium on 16 March 2022. This annual feature is in memory of the nation’s first CDS, General Bipin Rawat, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM and recipient of the Padma Vibhushan. 16 March is the birth anniversary of General Bipin Rawat. The inaugural lecture was given by Lt General Yogendra Dimri, AVSM, VSM, GOC-in-C, Central Command. The topic chosen was, ‘Theaterisation of the combat power is the way ahead for an integrated response in the battlefields of the future.’ At the conclusion of the talk, General Dimri also addressed a few questions from the audience.
This topic is relevant as theaterisation, currently underway, is the most major reform undertaken by the Indian armed forces since independence. General Rawat, as the CDS, had initiated several steps to push this transformation thereby enhancing the operational effectiveness of the Indian armed forces.General Dimri covered the topic under the changing threat environment, the need for creating theatre commands, benefits that will flow from theatre commands, and the way forward. The intention was to cover a vast canvas, thereby conveying the message that these reforms are essential for the armed forces to face future threats with maximum combat power in operations which will be swift, short, and intense with the employment of technologically smart weapons which will have devastating capabilities.
India faces two nuclear adversaries, both of whom seek Indian territory and operate in tandem. Post Kargil, it was realized that the services operate in independent silo’s and unless they operate jointly, complete combat potential would never be applied at the point of decision. Thus, the Kargil Review Committee and the subsequent Group of Minister’s committee made relevant suggestions, post which the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman and Nicobar Command were raised alongside the Integrated Defence Staff. Subsequently, the Space, Cyber and Armed Forces Special Operations Division were raised. In 2014 and 2017 the PM, in his address to the Combined Commanders recommended jointness and integration, which were enforced by the appointment of General Bipin Rawat as the first CDS.
Warfare of the future is marked by uncertainty and a lack of transparency. Identification of an enemy and predictability in the nature of operations is unlikely. Wars are bound to be costlier, with emphasis on technology and involvement of all domains, political, economic, and military. Grey Zone warfare would be the nature of the future thereby avoiding contact warfare unless essential. Powerful nations would bank on technology while weaker nations on asymmetric warfare. Economic sanctions, informational and cyber would-be tools of warfare for the future.
However, these threats do not imply that the utility of the armed forces has receded. A powerful armed force is a deterrent to the adversary against misadventures, while a weak would be exploited.
In the Indian scenario, both its neighbours, China and Pakistan are nuclear-armed and seek Indian territory. These nations, with different strategies, one of bleeding India by a thousand cuts and the other of salami-slicing and supporting secessionist elements within are aimed at reducing the nation’s ability to wage war. China, which seeks to be a global power would exploit its economic and military advantage over India. Its arming of Pakistan is to compel India to remain concerned on a two-front threat. Therefore, Indian armed forces need to create structures where they can counter these threats with unity of purpose and force. Jointness also leads to enhancing joint capabilities, logistics and intelligence, thus reducing expenditure.
In our context, all wars have been fought based on a different perception of the roles of separate services. During the Kargil conflict, even the names adopted by the services were different. Thus there have been independent strategies, resulting in a lack of synergy in the application of force. Current force development is also determined by service HQs based on their individual threat perceptions resulting in duplicity of effort.
Theatre commands are the way forward to overcome these shortcomings. Currently, all major global powers have adopted this approach, China being the last in 2015. The theatre commander would lay down joint strategies, operational and training doctrines as also control joint logistics. Operations would be planned to be launched jointly in multi-dimensions. Conduct of operations would remain the responsibility of service commands employing forces in unison. Service HQs would be responsible for manning, equipping, and training of their respective services. HQ IDS, under the CDS, would take on the role of integrating strategies between different theatre commands.
The planning for the future involves the creation of a maritime command which would include the western and eastern naval commands. The role and task of the existing Andaman Command has yet to be finalized. The two land-based commands would be the western theatre command, possibly located at Jaipur and the eastern theatre command located at either Kolkata or Lucknow. The western theatre command would be responsible for the IB portion of the border with Pakistan, while the eastern theatre command for the Chinese border, as also borders with other nations in the East.
The existing northern command would remain in its current form due to the prevailing situation and its geographical peculiarities. It would not be amalgamated into either theatre command. Discussions on an air defence command are still ongoing and there is no clarification on the same yet.
These land-based theatre commands would control the existing army and air force commands responsible for operations in their respective sectors. The creation of theatre commands would offset the disadvantages of the current, leading to a synergized approach in the application of force.
The lecture was well received and concluded with a series of questions from the audience.
Authored by : Team STRIVE
STRIVE is an initiative of veterans, who after hanging the uniform decided to have a “Think Tank” at Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh (India), with a view to harnessing the immense knowledge and experience of the retired community and use it for the betterment of the next-generation and society at large.
The Acronym STRIVE conveys the following:-
S – Society for
T – Transformative
R – Research
I – Integration and
V – Veteran
E – Empowerment
Contact : STRIVE, “The Soldiers’ Retreat”, Vijay Khand, Gomti Nagar Lucknow (india) 226010
Secretary – 9415069070 Office – 9411169070, 0522 4952040
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Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation that he belongs to or of the STRIVE.