Plan cleared at the highest levels of government, say officials. However, IAF still has major reservations on it

NEW DELHI: Extensive studies have been undertaken and discussed over the last two years before arriving at a broad plan to create four integrated triservice commands, an official said on Monday. However, the IAF still has major reservations on the issue, said the official.

Air defence and maritime theatre commands, integrated eastern theatre and integrated western theatre commands are being planned, the official said.

As part of the ongoing deliberations, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat is scheduled to chair a meeting on Tuesday with the Vice-Chiefs of the three services, the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and the representatives from the Ministries of Defence, Home and Finance.

“After studying Indian and western models of war fighting for over two years, table top exercises and war games were conducted and operational discussions were held to come up with the best model suited for us,” the official said. The commands will have Indian characteristics, ethos and way of fighting, the official stated.

Detailed parleys have also been held with the veteran community and think-tanks to brainstorm on the far-reaching decisions, the official said.

The plan has been cleared at the highest levels of the government and the Army and the Navy are fully onboard with it, two officials independently said.

The IAF opposition is based on an incorrect understanding of the concept, the first official cited earlier said. “Current IAF stance of retaining most assets and operational control under the Air headquarters and the Air Chief goes against the very essence of integration and jointmanship.”

The IAF insecurity that it will lose control over its assets and operations is unfounded because nothing is being changed from the ground till the level of Army commanders and equivalent, the official said. “All air bases, squadrons and air assets will continue to function under IAF officials.”

A committee was recently set up comprising the Vice-Chiefs of the three services, the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, and representatives from the Ministries concerned after issues like bringing in para military forces, which are under the Home Ministry, under the purview of the theatre commands as well as financial implications were raised.

The mandate of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) includes bringing about jointness among the three services including through establishment of the commands.