National

Unified tri-service command to handle cyberspace, space, special operations

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Highlights
  • A tri-service chief or chief of defence staff would inject synergy in logistics, planning, procurements and training among the three forces
  • This would facilitate ‘single-point’ military advise to the government
  • At least two of the proposed agencies to handle cyberspace, space and special operations will soon be approved by the cabinet committee on security

The government is finally moving ahead to approve the creation of tri-Service organisations to handle the critical domains of cyberspace, space and special operations in modern-day warfare, but has virtually junked the proposal to establish a separate procurement body to streamline mega arms acquisitions.

The defence ministry (MoD) has found the recommendation to set up a centralised defence procurement organisation, with some autonomy to integrate the long-winded and cumbersome arms acquisitions, offsets, defence production and other such processes, to be “impractical and unworkable” as of now.

Government sources, however, say “at least two, if not all three” of the proposed agencies to handle cyberspace, space and special operations will soon be approved by the cabinet committee on security led by PM Modi. Modi is slated to address the combined commanders’ conference at the Jodhpur airbase on September 28.

At the last such interaction with the military brass, held at the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun in January 2017, Modi had stressed the need for better “jointmanship” among the armed forces, which need to become far more agile and lethal with better teeth-to-tail ratios.

India certainly needs a tri-Service chief or chief of defence staff to inject some much-needed synergy in logistics, planning, procurements and training among the three forces, who often pull in different directions, as well as to provide “single-point” military advise to the government.

Similarly, there is no getting away from the need to have theatre commands in the long run to integrate the air, land and sea assets under single operational commanders for a greater military punch from limited budgetary resources. But politico-bureaucratic apathy, inter-Service turf wars and lack of long-term strategic planning have stymied systemic reforms in the defence establishment so far.

The original proposal, for instance, was for full-fledged commands under Lt-Generals (three-star generals) to handle the rapidly-expanding challenges in space, cyberspace and clandestine warfare, especially with China making huge investments in all the three domains. But it has been gradually truncated to setting up much smaller tri-Service agencies under Major-Generals (two-star), as was first reported by TOI earlier.

By: TNN

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