‘Not A Supporting Role Alone’: Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria Responds To Gen Rawat’s Comment On IAF

New Delhi: Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said that the Indian Air Force was “fully committed” to the theaterisation of the armed forces adding that Airpower has a huge role to play in any of the integrated battle roles.

Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria’s remarks came after Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat spoke about the IAF and its role as a “supporting arm” to the ground forces.

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General Bipin Rawat spoke about the Air Force playing a supporting role at a conference when he was asked about the growing perception that the Indian Air Force was not that keen on setting up the proposed theatre commands integrating the capabilities of the three forces.

“Do not forget that the Air Force continues to remain a supporting arm of the armed forces, just as the artillery or engineers support the combatants within the Army. They have an air defence charter and support the ground forces in time of operations,” Gen Rawat had said, emphasising that the force has to understand its basic charter.

Both General Rawat and Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria addressed separate sessions during a conference organised by a think-tank.

When asked about Gen Rawat’s comments, the Air Chief Marshal responded that IAF’s “is not a supporting role alone. The air power has a huge role to play in any of the integrated battle roles.”

Speaking about the views on the theaterisation of armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said the IAF was fully committed to the formation of integrated theatre commands, adding that, “We must get it right”.

Responding to a question on the opinion that IAF might have reservations for the theaterisation process as the air force does not want to split its comparatively fewer assets, General Rawat brought up the five operational commands of the force that manage its resources.

“In an overall assessment, it is a known fact that there is resistance to change. One needs to be conscious of that and fight that inherent resistance. The nature and character of conflicts will continue to change,” Gen Rawat said.

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Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria On LAC Situation With China

In the context of the LAC situation in eastern Ladakh, the Chief of Air Staff said that China has augmented its infrastructure in the past few months while both sides are carrying out a disengagement process in Pangong Lake areas.

“After the initial disengagement which has happened, there is virtual kind of status quo. Many of the infra that were developed particularly from the perspective of air assets… except for some aircraft that they have taken back from forward deployments, rest of infrastructure has been strengthened,” he said.

“We are monitoring across very carefully and very closely. We are aware of what kind of assets are there and what needs to be done from our point of view; deployments and whatever action needed to be taken have been taken,” he added.

Theatarisation Plans

As per the plan, theatre commands will have units of the three forces: the Army, the Navy and the Air Force which will work as a single entity looking after security challenges in a specified geographical territory under an operational commander. Currently, the Army, Navy and the Air Force have separate commands.

The theatre commands are being constituted under a larger mandate to ensure synergy among the three service chiefs to deal with future security challenges.

(With Agency Inputs)

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