“The most important achievement I have been able to achieve is to forge a kind of consensus on macro issues between all the three service Chiefs and myself as to what kind of roadmap or transformation we want to lay down for the armed force, and there is good synergy right now among the three services to work together,” Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan said when asked about the outcome of his one-year tenure as the CDS, at India Defence Conclave 2023 held on 10th October in New Delhi.
Asked about the long-pending plan to create tri-service theatre commands, Gen Chauhan described “Theaterisation” as one of the “most ambitious reforms” being attempted post-independence and said, “jointness and integration will lead to theaterisation.”
“As part of the process, we have identified nine verticals that need to be integrated together, which include operations, operational logistics, intelligence, information flow, training, HR, administration, supply chain management and maintenance, and these lay the foundation for the creation of theatre commands,” said the CDS during the fireside chat with Nitin Gokhale.
In his first detailed and formal media interview after taking charge as India’s second Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) a year ago, General Anil Chauhan spoke to Nitin A. Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief of Bharat Shakti, StratNews Global and Interstellar, on a host of issues, including India’s overall defence preparedness when it comes to dealing with China and Pakistan and most pressing issues like the road to theaterisation, how things have progressed so far, and the challenges that remain.
In an apparent reference to the theaterisation plan, the CDS said, “We have been able to build some kind of spirit of bonhomie and camaraderie among the three services and remove whatever little mistrust existed among them,” and observed that “there is no point creating joint structures where people are not ready to fight together. Consensus was important for me, adding, “Obviously, consensus is not the best solution. So somewhere you have to compromise to take everyone along. But I think we will be able to get to a good solution.”
“It is a journey that’s just commenced, and hopefully, we will complete it in a good manner,” Gen Chauhan exuded confidence.
The process of establishing integrated theatre commands is currently in full swing. The effort is to finalise strategies and plans for restructuring the Indian military’s joint planning and integration. However, discussions on what model to adopt to create a structure at the headquarters to exercise command and control over the proposed theatre commands and the shape they must adopt in executing military plans are ongoing. Various models have been deliberated upon in the regular meetings that the CDS and the three Service Chiefs have been holding under the rubric of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC), of which Gen Chauhan is the permanent Chairman by virtue of his position.