Why India needs two maritime theatres of command, not one

Without doubt, the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff and the decision to reorganise the armed forces into joint theatre commands are the most significant defence reforms in independent India. The defence ministry and the top military leadership deserve commendation for moving to implement the changes quickly, in the face of multiple challenges: a pandemic, confrontation with China, upsurge in conflict along the western boundaries and a tightening fiscal position. This reorganisation is an extremely rare opportunity to put in place structures, processes and organisational cultures necessary to defend India in the 21st century — for that reason, it is vital to get it all right. As Admiral Arun Prakash, former Chief of Navy Staff and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, told me “there will not be a second chance”.

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