War Theatres: India's entry into hybrid warfare

The Ministry of Defense announced the theaterisation of the Indian Armed forces under the Chief of Armed Forces (currently, Gen Bipin Rawat), the Defense Secretary and the tri-force chief council.

Indian Armed Forces - Wikipedia
The Insignia of the Indian Armed Forces

Theatres of defense would quite effectively wipe out the existing commands system in which the Indian uniformed forces work. India has 17 armed commands – 7 for the army, 7 for the airforce and 3 for the Navy. These commands are indepednent of each other and have a different officer from the corresponding service to serve as the commander. This model is the traditional one which has been followed for centuries. The British, the French, the Americans have all always had a separate command for the army and for the navy. The Mughal Empire did not have a lot of maritime enemies along its controlled regions in Bengal. However, by the time the Marathas took over, the Portugese and the French had arrived with newer war techniques and a large part of this warfare was at sea. So, the Marathas developed a strong naval force. Even then, the office of the admiral and the office of the Commander of Army were separate. Infact, even in the army, the office of the gun users and those of the cavalry and cannons were separate.

However, the first world war introduced new means of warfare. Trenches, tanks, heavier guns and soldiers – everything together. It was unlike the American Wars before 1860s where the two parties would stand on either side of the rift and shoot on orders and then jump to manual fighting. It was a new way of fighting where all forces of offense and defense needed to work together and several layers of bureaucracy and controls would hinder the effectiveness. Thus was introduced the concept of theatre of war. War office was segregated not based on the uniformed service but on the region to control. That makes orders easier, the need and procurement of weapons is simplified. The second world war only assured that the theatre warfare is better than the conventional war office. There is a commander of the theatre who addresses directly to the council of war or the defense council or the war office (As in World War 2 Britain) or to the chief of Defense forces and Defense Secretary (As in modern day USA).

China entered into the Theatrisation process very recently. Pakistan copied its model. India is probably the last large economy to change to the theatre model of warfare. And it means that Indian warfare should be more synchronized and effective now. So should be the process of weaponisation. There have been instances where the airforce and the army separately ordered jets causing the government to loose a lot on the benifits it could have had received for a bulk order. Similar is the story for missiles to be used by the army, the navy and the air force.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of drama going on in the defense forces headquarters in New Delhi about the theaterisation mechanics. However, all chiefs and the cabinet has shown commitment towards a fast and effective formalization of the new policy.

Post a Comment