New Delhi: Collective leadership is the way Indian defence planning at the highest level is headed, with the three chiefs and the Chief of Defence Staff sitting together to take major decisions.
After the reorganisation of the armed forces and the creation of “theatre” commands as currently envisaged, there will be five theatre commanders appointed: West (dealing with Pakistan), North (exclusively Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh), East (China-centric), Air defence and peninsular India as the maritime Command.
The question is, who will the five theatre commanders, all three-star generals or their equivalent, report to? The maritime Command will be headed by a vice admiral, the air defence command, by an air marshal and the three other commands by lieutenant generals. As they control soldiers and weaponry from all three services, they cannot report only to their respective chiefs. Or to just one of the other chiefs. Or even to the chief of defence staff, a newly created post, currently General Bipin Rawat as he has no operational responsibilities. For, the responsibility for operations are still with the service chiefs.
The arrangement arrived at is as follows:
1. The theatre commanders will report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee, comprising all three chiefs and the CDS, all of whom are based in Delhi
2. As a result, there will be collective responsibility when it comes to operational decisions, or simply, decisions during the war will be taken jointly by the four chiefs
3. Meanwhile, a special team headed by Major general KP Singh has been created to push through the “transformation” of the structure of the armed forces