Is the Indian Army ready for Theatre Level Unified Command Operations?

Boots on the ground require more technology for the soldier himself and can be a race against time to digitize the human-centric army. (Representative image: IE)

General Bipin Rawat as the first Chief of Staff of the Defense (CDS) will graduate one year soon. Among other issues, the operations of three services for more synergies in operation, new commands at the theatrical level, including air defense command, fall within its competence. As previously reported, General Rawat announced that the Indian military will complete the theatrical process by 2023.

What does dramatization mean?

In his first interaction with the media earlier this year, General Rawat indicated that there could be several commands, including the peninsula command (for the southern part of the state), air defense command and other commands in the eastern, northern and western regions.

The Joint Doctrine document, published in 2017, is detailed on the expectations of command at the theatrical level, and the Indian Army must pay special attention to its current technological gaps before engaging in joint development of niche unified command tactics.

Theatrical command must have specific units from the three services: specialized units from the army, navy and air force will operate under a common theater commander to gain a tactical advantage over the enemy.


Streamlining combat resources, the effectiveness of executions and dealing with the threat posed by our main adversary, China, which has established commands at the theatrical level.

Is the Indian Army ready for theatrical command?

No. Theatrical command will depend heavily on interoperability between the three services, which is not yet available. The Indian Army already has many problems, such as the SDR-based modern joint tactical radio communications implementation for tactical advantages. The availability of modern, fully secure digital communication for voice and data services between tank units is important for situational awareness, and in turn, these tank units must be digitally integrated with IAF fighter jets operating in the role of air support. The military must now incorporate the IAF’s well-developed defensive and offensive tactics into its own real-time operational schemes for the efficient operation of air assets.

Which means that the joint operations of the Indian Army with the IAF will be much more than just a hierarchical organization for communicating orders in today’s interoperable war. Any theater command is likely to highlight more than the shortcomings of interoperability between services as an obstacle to achieving the desired performance standards, which are now redefined for results at the theater level.

“Perhaps it is time for the military to self-analyze its combat doctrines and concepts before engaging operations with IAF assets as a unified theatrical command,” the senior officer said.

The Indian Army, which is the main beneficiary, having control over a larger number of full-fledged commands at the theatrical level in the future, will do well by taking on greater technical responsibility for the operational use of combat capabilities at the theatrical level. This can support the Naval Theater Command (CMT) and the Air Defense Command to be more objective in their approach as they work with ground forces.


The IAF operates some of the latest multi-role fighters, and sharing such resources under the unified command of the Indian Army may not make full use of the IAF’s capabilities due to a lack of high-tech systems such as battlefield management systems. The IAF has developed its own pre-integrated Teal Time Air Command and Control System (IACCS) for air traffic control. The interconnection of AICCS with an equivalent battlefield management system (as and when it develops) will exploit the true potential of Land-Air integration.

Battlefield management system: a critical technology for the Indo-Chinese border

Setting the philosophy at the Battlefield Management level at this late stage for the implementation of Theater Command, which also includes the latest IAF assets, could be detrimental to the early readiness of these ground theater teams. Boots on the ground require more technology for the soldier himself and can be a race against time to digitize the human-centric army.

Maritime Theater Command Structure in India: Learn more about this

Interoperability in a multinational task force, where the Indian ground forces will also be involved at the theater level, requires much more digital effort than the Indian Armed Forces than ever before.

Evolution of the Indian Navy to combat command of the naval theater

Complete the theatricalization process by 2023

The CDS said it would take three years to complete the full theatrical performance. As the military is more represented in all three service organizations, it may be a reasonable mandate to make the Indian military centrally responsible for the implementation of theater-level technology solutions (such as Tactical Data Link, Software Defined Radios, etc.). three services, even when theatrical commands of the naval and air defenses are likely to be formed before the launch of the army’s ground theatrical commands.

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