The problem now with the military synergy plan

  • IASbaba
  • July 5, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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  • GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive
  • GS-3: Security challenges and their management in border areas 

The problem now with the military synergy plan

Context: Union government creating the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) & making progress with the idea of Integrated Theatre Commands was very much needed to break away from old practice of Indian Military working in silos.

  • The objective of these steps is to bring synergy in operations while economising through the elimination of duplication and wasteful practices or processes

While the Army and the Navy are on board with the proposal of Integrated Theatre Command, the Air Force has certain reservations.

What are the arguments from Air Force?

  1. Dangers of Air Force becoming Adjunct to Army & Navy
  • In the current formulation of theatres, the objections from the IAF have essentially been due to air power being seen as an adjunct to the two surface forces (Army and Navy) and being divided into multiple packets.
  • Air force experts opine that this would dilute air force’s operational autonomy and would seriously degrade the effectiveness of air operations in any future conflict or contingency
  1. Deliberation before Fomalisation
  • Also, it is better that such objections and dissenting opinions come out now before the structure is formalised.
  1. Need to first Come up with National Security Strategy
  • Despite seven decades of Independence, India still does not have a clearly articulated national security strategy. 
  • Only such a strategy can define the types of contingencies the military is expected to address and define the structures required for the conduct of synergised operations. 
  • An intellectual exercise while developing National Security Strategy may well result in identifying air power as the lead element. 
  • Thus, CDS should have pursued drawing up of such overarcing strategy rather than rushing through integrating forces.
  1. Future Conflicts requires empowered Air Force
  • Defence Programme post-1962 was based on the assumption that China posed the major threat and that the IAF be made capable of assuming some of the Army’s deterrence capability
  • Even during recent border clashes with China, the clear intent to use combat air power, as against 1962, has significantly contributed in deterring China.
  • IAF does not wish to see its limited resources frittered away in fighting frontal defensive battles by a land force commander with little expertise in employment of air power. 
  1. Structural Gaps remains unaddressed
  • Theatre or any lower structure requires an institutionalised higher defence organisation, which has been sadly missing since the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) became defunct in the 1950s
  • CDS, as the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), would also exercise operational control of the theatre/functional commands, a move that is unlikely to be palatable to the politico-bureaucratic leadership.
  • Therefore, it is better to address these structural issues before moving ahead with integrated theatre commands


Prudence demands that instead of ramming down such structures without adequate deliberations and discussions with all stakeholders, we first evolve appropriate military strategies in a nuclear backdrop in concert with the political objectives.

Connecting the dots:

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