New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The turf war within the Armed Forces over the proposed theatre commands has escalated once again after Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria rejected the opinion of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat that the Indian Air Force (IAF) remains a "supporting arm" to the ground forces.

Speaking at an event, ACM Bhadauria said that the IAF has a huge role to play in any of the integrated battle roles, asserting it is "fully committed" to the theaterisation of the Armed Forces.

"It is not a supporting role alone. The air power has a huge role to play in any of the integrated battle role," he pointed out.

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

Elaborating on the IAF's role, the CDS talked about its air defence role and said one of the theatre commands will look at the overall management of the air space in the country.

"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," General Rawat said, adding the force has to understand its basic charter.

Both General Rawat and Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria were speaking at separate sessions of a conference organised by the Global Counter-Terrorism Council (GCTC) - a think-tank.

To a question on argument that IAF could have reservations for the theaterisation process as it does not want to split its assets which are fewer, General Rawat referred to 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," General Rawat said.

According to the plan, theatre commands will have units of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and all of them will work as a single entity looking after security challenges in a specified geographical territory under an operational commander.

At present, the Army, Navy and the Air Force have separate commands.

The theatre commands are being set up under a larger mandate of ensuring synergy among the three service chiefs to deal with future security challenges.

General Rawat took over as India's first Chief of Defence Staff on January 1, 2020, with a mandate to bring in convergence among the three services and restructure military commands to effectively deal with future security challenges.

(With inputs from PTI)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma