Public spat as CDS calls Air Force a support arm, Air Chief says it is not

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Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Differences over the proposed integrated command system of defence forces came out in public view on Friday when Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat termed the Air Force just a supporting arm, while Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria said “it is not”. 

Speaking at a defence summit on Friday, Gen Rawat said the “Air force is required to provide support to the ground forces. Do not forget, Air Force continues to remain a supporting arm to the armed forces just as the Artillery or Engineers support the Combatant Arms in the Army…. They have an adequate charter of supporting the ground forces in times of war,” the CDS added.

Later, speaking at the same event, the Air Chief said, “Air power has a huge role to play in any of the integrated battle areas and it is not an issue of support alone.”Calling the formation of the theatre commands much more complex the Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said, “Air force is for the formation of theatre commands. But the issues we have raised is about how we should do it. It is the most important reform that has an impact on warfighting.”

When asked about the charter of the Indian Air Force, Bhadauria said, “Every service has its own doctrine, the best knowledge of how to employ the capabilities and capacities to get the best results.”The 1.4 million Indian Armed Forces, Army, Navy and Air Force function to secure and defend the nation under 17 functional commands.

The  formation of the Chief of Defence Staff in December 2019 was to integrate and synergise the armed forces to prepare them to meet the requirements of modern warfare. Theaterisation is one of the charters of the CDS. There are plans are to integrate the forces into five theatre commands – Air Defence, Maritime Theatre, Eastern Theatre, Western Theatre and Northern Theatre. 



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