Know all about IAF chief’s disagreement with CDS General Rawat over theatre commands

New Delhi: IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria does not completely agree with the views of Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat regarding the creation of a Unified Theater Command.

While the Indian Air Force (IAF) has refused to engage in media debates on the issue, IAF chief Bhadauria clarified that the IAF is in support of the creation of a theater command, but it should be done in the right way.

Bhadauria also disagreed with the CDS’s remarks comparing the Indian Air Force with the military’s combat auxiliary weapons such as engineers and artillery. He also emphasized the role of air power in any joint military operation.

It is noteworthy that the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) is working towards creating four theater commands. Of these, three would be headed by an army officer and one by a naval officer. All theater commanders will report to the CDS as per the proposals which are yet to be approved by the Defense Minister and the government.

These differences between the Army and the Air Force came to the fore during a seminar organized by the Global Counter-Terrorism Council on Friday. Where CDS Rawat said that the Air Force needs to provide assistance to the ground forces.

“Don’t forget that the Air Force remains a subsidiary branch of the Armed Forces, just as artillery and engineers help the Army. They have an air defense charter and charter to support ground forces in times of operation,” the CDS said. 

Stressing the need for the Air Force to understand this basic charter, the senior-most military officer said that under the new proposals, the Air Force would have a centralized air defense command and assets such as fighter aircraft would be divided into two land-based theater commands. .

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General Rawat said air defense advisors would be appointed in the two commands on the western and eastern borders who would advise the theater commander on the conduct of air strikes.

After the CDS, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria declined to discuss the details of the internal deliberations on the theater command, saying it was not necessary to discuss the differences publicly. 

However, Bhadauria made it clear that the Air Force is not just an auxiliary branch. There are many different aspects involved in planning an air campaign. 

“There is no doubt that we are in favor of setting up these commands, but we should do this work properly. This is a significant improvement. We have to take a more flexible approach to reaching the next level of comprehensive national power rather than imposing more restrictions,” he said.

The IAF chief said that each of the three services has its own principles and experiences. 

“These need to be brought together for a coordinated outcome. It is not just a supporting role. Air power plays an important role. There are a lot of things seen in air campaign in any integrated war. These things need to be taken into account.

It is noteworthy that last month a presentation was given to the Defense Minister and officials of the Ministry of Defense. These people raised many questions on the proposed structure of command by the Department of Military Affairs. 

The Department of Military Affairs (DMA) then formed a committee comprising three deputy chiefs and officials from the Ministry of Defense. They again expressed their concerns in writing in the first meeting. The concerns raised by the ministry are yet to be answered in detail.

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