The Narendra Modi government has finally taken the first step towards integrating the defence forces. As of now, the three defence services – Indian Army, IAF and Indian Navy – are under the operational command of three different single three-star officers. This new step by the Government of India seeks to amend the command rules for the three establishments. New notified rules and orders will now ensure that any officer from any one service will now exercise direct command over all personnel, reported TOI. The move has been specially implemented for the strategically located Andaman and Nicobar Command, the report further added.
The Kargil Review Committee under K Subramanyam and the GoM on national security in 2001 had recorded that Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) had not been effective in fulfilling its mandate. It further recommended that a position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Vice Chief of Defence Staff be introduced to strengthen the defence forces. This reform might comes across as a minor structural change. But, the impact of this reform shall bear a strong impact on the defence forces functioning. The reforms aspire to bring in a single point military advice to the government.
“I like many other experts have been writing about this for a long time now, giving reference each time to the US legislation called Goldwater Nicols Act of 1986. It is high time this structural reform happened,” Lt General Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), Defence expert tells FE Online. It was actually the US which was the first one to take such transformative structural reform in its Defence forces. It was on October 4, 1986, that US President Ronald Reagan signed the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defence Reorganisation Act. The Act was responsible for the most drastic change in the US Department of Defence. The Chain of Command and military advise was centralised under the Chairman of Joint Chiefs as per the Act. The Act also brought in changes to the way the services interact with each other.
“The integration of the Indian defence forces is a need for the modern day battlefield. What the Government is doing is definitely bridging the challenge of insecurity and accepting the need for bringing in more joint thinking among the Services. Amendment of laws to create better command and control systems amongst the Services is definitely a welcome move”, he further adds.
The Act also seeks to enhance the interaction and efficiency of the planning process within the three services and it will definitely ensure a sense of ‘togetherness’ in the armed forces. The Government of India which has now taken steps in Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC) will give the Commander-in-Chief of ANC the power to directly control all personnel under the three services. This development will further strengthen the case for India’s involvement in the Indian Ocean Region.