Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rawat also said India's armed forces will increasingly need to achieve more with less, which requires a relook at current force structures, doctrines & tech

New Delhi: Warning that a “belligerent” China will continue to assert itself seeking to establish dominance in states surrounding India and in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat strongly pitched for jointness and theatre commands as the Combined Commanders’ Conference began Thursday.

Addressing a webinar organised by the College of Defence Management (CDM), Secunderabad, before flying off to Kevadia in Gujarat for the conference that will also be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday, Gen. Rawat said India stood up against China in 2020 and “thwarted their nefarious design”.

“2020 has been an interesting year. The world had to grapple with a corona pandemic… losing millions of lives … We (India) also stood up to our belligerent neighbour on the northern borders and thwarted their nefarious design. Now more than any other time, military transformation is vital to us,” he said while adding that the Indian armed forces adapted themselves to the situation.

‘China Will Continue To Assert Itself’

Noting that the Indian military faces greater challenges than any other military in the world, Gen. Rawat said the defence establishment should think about what they should prepare for.

“Threats for which our military must be organised primarily comes from China and Pakistan. In future, China will continue to assert itself, seeking to establish dominance in states surrounding India and in the IOR,” he said.

The CDS said that new tools, techniques and tactics have emerged that can be employed to undermine social cohesion and the means to connect rapidly to an audience like never before.

“Information is indeed more democratised today,” he said.

He said that since independence, the Indian military has grown from a small force with limited warfare capabilities into a large and modern fighting machine.

“The organisational structure for conventional wars or limited conflicts under nuclear over rank already exists, but they need to be re-modelled, re-equipped and re-oriented to conduct joint battles in digitised battlespace to have necessary flexibility for other types of operations,” he said.

Gen. Rawat said that the operative word is quality vis-à-vis quantity.

“The Indian armed forces will increasingly need to achieve more with less. This demands a relook at current force structures, doctrines, concepts and technology,” he said.

“Some important steps that we need to take include — defining the national security strategy, higher defence strategic guidance, structural reforms in higher defence and operational organisations,” he added.

Service Commands

Gen. Rawat also said that there are 17 single service commands and none of them are co-located with each other.

He said each of the three services view their strategic and operational role in isolation, adding that there was a lack of synergy in operations and even procurement is not based on a joint threat perception.

“Such narrow working perspective” impacts the deployment capability of the armed forces and hence, “the case of theatralisation needs no further emphasis”.