New Delhi: In a move to counter threats in the maritime zone and to strengthen the defences of the coastline, Indian Navy held a high level meeting with officers from the Army and the Air Force on creating a Maritime Theatre Command aimed at having a functional joint fighting formation by the end of this year.
The meeting chaired by Vice Admiral AB Singh discussed the structure of the proposed command, highly placed sources said.
The proposed command will look after the Indian maritime zone from Andamans in the east to the Lakshadweep in west apart from maintaining strict vigil in the areas of country’s interest in the entire Indian Ocean and Pacific region.
The Indian Air Force expressed its reservations regarding the creation of these commands and the structures proposed in them. The IAF has been opposing the structures proposed in the four theatre commands planned to be set up by the Department of Military Affairs.
The meeting was part of the study and exercise by the Indian Navy to suggest the structures of Maritime Theatre Command as part of the Indian Navy’s study on the issue. All three forces have been asked to carry out studies for the creation of Theatre Commands in their respective domains.
Sources said the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army were represented by their officials deployed in the southern parts of the country. The Indian Air Force was represented by an Air Vice Marshal posted in Mumbai for coordinating the maritime air operations. “During the meeting, the Indian Air Force expressed its reservations on the structures proposed,” sources said.
The Indian Air Force is in favour of the creation of theatre commands but has expressed reservations on the number of new commands to be created within the given resources and assets. The DMA under late Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat had asked the three forces to submit their respective studies related to theatre commands by April this year. The Indian Army has nominated Central Army commander Lt Gen YK Dimri along with South Western Army commander Lt Gen Amardeep Singh Bhinder to conduct the study for the creation of these commands.
Sources said the plan of the DMA is to create four new theatre commands which will not include the most sensitive Ladakh sector which has seen two aggressions by the armies of Pakistan and China respectively in the last two decades.
The meeting in Mumbai was the first major meeting on the issue of the creation of theatre commands after the death of General Rawat in a chopper crash. Singh being the senior-most officer in the Commander-in-Chief rank in the Navy is also likely to become the first Maritime Theatre Commander.
With the studies expected to be submitted by April, sources said it is likely that the government may announce the creation of the Maritime Theatre Command by August 15 this year.