The commander-in-chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command has been empowered to take disciplinary action against all officers and men under him, requisition military assets from the three services, handle land acquisition cases, and also been granted additional financial powers, according to documents and people familiar with the matter.
In early April and in early May, 16 years after India’s first tri-services command was raised in Port Blair, the government passed orders to vest more powers in the Commander-in-Chief of Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN), setting the stage for a larger goal of creating integrated commands to synergise the functioning of the three services, said senior officials who did not wish to be named.
The officials said the CINCAN was likely to have the same financial powers as army commanders and their equivalent in the other two services.
Two government orders, passed on April 4 and May 4, seek to remove functional problems in the tri-service environment by bestowing more powers on CINCAN, currently a three-star naval officer.
“These are important but small steps towards jointness and integration, and the overall authority of the joint commander,” said Sudarshan Shrikhande, a retired rear admiral.
Until the orders were issued, CINCAN had limited powers to initiate disciplinary action against personnel from the army and the air force as they were governed by the Army Act and the Air Force Act respectively.
An order passed on May 4 under the provisions of the Air Force Act, 1950, has empowered CINCAN, or, in his absence, an officer not under the rank of an Air Commodore to convene General Courts Martial and confirm the findings and sentences.
A similar order was passed under the Army Act, 1950, on April 4 to bring army personnel under CINCAN. Only in cases where a soldier has been sentenced to death, CINCAN will have to withhold confirmation and refer the proceedings to the chiefs of the army or the air force, as the case may be.
Earlier all such disciplinary cases, except the navy as CINCAN is a naval officer, were forwarded to the respective service headquarters for action.
India is focusing on fortifying its farthest military outpost, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, amid China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. Myanmar’s Coco Islands, where the Chinese navy has set up a surveillance post, are barely 40 km from the Andamans’ northernmost tip Landfall.
Airstrips at Campbell Bay and Shibpur have been extended from 3,000 feet to 12,000 feet to support all types of aircraft, including fighter jets, officials said.
The Andamans are more than 1,200 km away from mainland India.
A significant volume of China’s oil imports passes through the Malacca Strait, about 350 km from these islands.
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