Armed forces to pitch for three new commands

Last Updated 18 October 2012, 10:31 IST

India's armed forces will Friday make a joint pitch before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and members of the cabinet committee on security (CCS) on setting up three new commands to meet the threats to space assets and cyber infrastructure and for controlling commando operations.

The three new commands - special operations, aerospace and cyber security - will draw elements, assets and manpower from all the three services, as well as from other relevant government departments, a top commander said.

A presentation, laying out the modalities and feasibility of the separate formations for carrying out these specialist tasks, will be made when the commanders of the army, navy and air force meet with the prime minister and the CCS members at the combined commanders conference, the officer told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The proposals have been prepared by the Chiefs Of Staff Committee (COSC) headed by Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne. This followed threadbare discussions with the other two COSC members - Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh and Indian Navy chief Admiral D.K. Joshi.

Browne will take lead in making the presentation. There will also be deliberations on the proposals at the daylong conference, where the heads of the sword arms of the three services will also express their views.

The idea behind the three separate commands has evolved from a suggestion made by a task force on national security headed by former cabinet secretary Naresh Chandra which submitted its report earlier this year.
The report of the task force is currently being studied by all relevant departments of the government, including the three armed forces.

The three services are of the view that each of the three new commands should be headed by a three-star officer while they synergise efforts and assets in these key areas of security.

Their opinion is that a lieutenant general should head the special operations command, which will pool in the commando forces of the army, navy and air force in a single formation, while the aerospace command should be headed by an air marshal and the cyber command by a vice admiral.

The army has been the pioneer in India in operations by special forces, the air force is the first among the three services to create a space cell and the navy is the first to raise a dedicated cyber security cadre.

At present, the Indian armed forces have two joint tri-services commands - the Port Blair-based Andaman and Nicobar Command and the New Delhi-based Strategic Forces Command that handles all nuclear weapons assets. The chiefs of these two commands are drawn by rotation from the three services.

Through the chief of integrated defence staff (IDS), the heads of these commands report to the COSC, as will the heads of the three new formations.

The decision on the three new commands will rest with the government, though the tri-services commanders will impress upon the nation's top security leadership the necessity for such formations in the wake of threats and trends in these sectors.

The special operations command has been successfully implemented by the US armed forces. Also, China has separate formations in the People's Liberation Army in the field of cyber security to carry out both offensive and defensive operations against threats to the country's information technology infrastructure.

Both these nations already have highly advanced space security programmes. China had in early 2007 demonstrated its anti-satellite capability, raising concerns among all space-faring nations on the security of their assets in space.

(Published 18 October 2012, 10:31 IST)

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