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Opinion

Open Letter to PM Modi: Theatre Commands & the Indian Air Force

Global instability prevailing currently places the darkest cold war era into insignificance.

India has never faced such volatile situation on international borders. Self serving political parties are responsible for enough internal disturbance.

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Continued onslaught of COVID PANDEMIC has been controlled to a certain extent by your exemplary leadership and decision to encourage development of indigeneous COVID vaccine.

Fiscal state of the nation is also nowhere near what it would have been if pandemic had not caused havoc. Yet we are likely to have a near double digit growth this year, hopefully.

I wish to draw your attention to attempts being made by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to create Theatre Commands. There is no study or proposal or white paper on this contentious issue yet. Talk of Theatre Command has been confined to irrelevant chatter while golfing or at officers’ mess bars.

I have, as a professional, questioned the issue from the first day when CDS announced it. I have requested him to review his decision by answering few fundamental questions placed for his perusal more than a year ago. He has neither acknowledged nor replied.

In addition I have placed the same questions for perusal of former three/four stars on the main page of our Think Tanks.

Strength of my logic (not argument) lies in the fact that not ONE MILITARY OFFICER OF ANY RANK has had the moral courage and professional wisdom to reply and contest my suggestion of ‘NO TAMPERING WITH EXISTING MILITARY STRUCTURE’ by answering few fundamental questions..

Sir, forced creation of Theatre Command will create a totally avoidable chasm among Indian Air Force and other Services. IAF does not want to control Army/Naval resources but proposed Theatre Command structure will place AIR POWER elements under the control of Army officer as Theatre Commander, who would be ignorant of basics of Air Power employment philosphy.

Sir, every Service Chief has had an unwritten VETO POWER as a member of the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC). In matters of national security, the Service Chief must have the last word wrt his Service.

In present state of instability with ‘red hot’ China border, tampering with military structure would be a direct threat to national security.

You may seek views of eminent bureaucrats, former military officers. It is not an issue between IAF and CDS or other services. It is a national security issue.

The word ‘JOINTMANSHIP’ is an utterly flawed and incomplete precept. Cooperation and coordination is achieved by ‘TRUST and MUTUAL DEPENDENCE’.

Ignoramuses in military and elsewhere believe that Air Forces fight their ‘PRIVATE’ wars. Let ignoramuses not succeed in causing irreversible damage to Indian Military and national security.

Sir, IAF operates on fundamental precepts of ‘TRUST’ and ‘CONFIDENCE IN OTHERS’, both in peace and war. For example our Annual Appraisal Reports remain truly confidential. Air Warriors are never shown their reports.

My letter stating the facts is enclosed for your kind perusal please.

Written By

Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava (Retd.)

Gp Capt. Tej Prakash Srivastava has served in Iraq and is a graduate of both DSSC and AWC. He was Directing Staff at DSSC and Chief Instructor at College of Air Warfare. He Served at Air HQ, commanded a MiG-21 Sqn, and headed the IAF establishment of Strike Corps during 'Operation Parakram'. He has authored a book titled 'Profligate Governance – Implications for National Security. He has written extensively on international and strategic affairs and Defence Procurement Procedures. The IAF officer graduated from the NDA in June 1970 and trained at AFA with 107th Pilots Course. He can be reached at Email: [email protected] * Views are personal

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