India is likely to firm up by the middle of next year a roadmap for rolling out the ambitious theatre commands that are expected to ensure optimum utilisation of the military resources and enhance the country's war-fighting capability, people familiar with the developments said on Sunday. The actual operationalisation of the theatre commands may take two to three years, they said.

According to the plan, each of the theatre commands will have units of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and all of them will work as a single entity looking after security challenges in a specified geographical territory under an operational commander. At present, the Army, Navy and the Air Force have separate commands. Initially, a plan was firmed up for the creation of an Air Defence Command and Maritime Theatre Command.

The theatre commands are being planned to integrate the capabilities of the three services and to ensure optimal utilisation of their resources. Recently, the department of military affairs (DMA) asked the three services to complete their studies on the proposed theatre commands by April so that the plan to create the new structures can be expedited, the people cited above said.

"A roadmap for implementation of the plan to roll out the theatre commands is likely to be firmed up by the middle of next year," said one of the people. Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat has been working on the Theaterisation model under which new integrated commands are being envisaged. The theatre commands are being set up under a larger mandate of ensuring synergy among the three service chiefs to deal with future security challenges.

Gen Rawat took over as India's first CDS on January 1, 2020, with a mandate to bring in convergence among the three services and restructure military commands to effectively deal with future security challenges. Separately, the Army is also working on raising new combat formations called the Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) to further bolster its combat prowess. The IBG, which aims to integrate different components of the Army into the new formation, will include artillery guns, tanks, air defence and logistical elements. Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Manoj Pande last month said that an in-principle approval has been given to the IBGs which can be mobilised fast.

The Army has already carried out extensive test-bedding of the IBG concept. The IBGs are likely to be headed by Major General-rank officers and could have troops numbering 5,000.