Air force to assist ground forces, to be part of theatre commands: Bipin Rawat

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, said on Friday that the air force has to be there to assist the ground forces and will be part of theatre commands, even while maintaining its exclusive mandate.

He also said that for the time being, the Northern Command of the army will remain as it is while for China and Pakistan, there will be dedicated integrated commands.

These will have air force component integrated and will be separate from the ‘Air Defence Command’ which will be the exclusive mandate of the Indian Air Force, General Rawat said while addressing a webinar on Artificial Intelligence and other modern technologies, organised by the think-tank Global Counter-Terrorism Council.

The CDS also addressed the concerns of the air force on creation of theatre commands, saying: “As far as Indian Air Force is concerned, the entire airspace of the nation will be looked after by one air defence command.”

He said the air force has got another charter and that is to provide close air support to the land forces when they undertake operations and for offensive air operations in case one goes into the adversary’s territory.

“The same is for the navy… they too require air support,” General Rawat said.

The theatres with the northern and western adversary (China and Pakistan) will be land-based theatres, he said.

Offensive air support for these will be provided by the IAF whose commanders will be advisers to the western and northern theatre commanders.

On the Northern Command of the Indian Army, the CDS said that it is undergoing a different kind of situation, as terrorism and insurgencies are going on there.

The Northern Command is one command which looks after both the fronts, like the China front in Ladakh and the northern front in the Kargil sector. This is one area that could witness a two-front war.

On the recent drone attack in Jammu, General Rawat said, “We have mechanisms to counter drones. These have been deployed and are gradually coming in larger numbers. A very large number of counter-drone systems are needed to defend our nation’s strategic assets.”

On India-China border standoff, he said the two nations understand that returning to the status quo is the best way of ensuring peace and tranquility.

“This will take time and happen in a gradual manner. We should be able to achieve the status quo,” General Rawat said.




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