After The Formation Of Theatre Commands, Tri-service Hq Integrated Defence Staff May Be Restructured To Take On More

In the run-up to the selection of a new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the tri-service Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS) is expected to be restructured to prepare for increased responsibilities once the Integrated Theatre Commands take effect.

HQ IDS is the tri-service apex organisation in charge of higher defence management.

Last year, the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs Of Staff Committee (CISC) authorised a study to restructure HQ IDS, according to highly placed defence sources. A panel of top officials from the defence services is conducting the research.

According to reports, the goal of the planned exercise is to ensure that the HQ IDS is ready for the new responsibilities that will come with the introduction of theatre commands and the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) taking over operations from the three service headquarters.

According to a high defence source, the CISC had a meeting in March to review the proposed alterations to the HQ IDS.

“Service headquarters’ comments were also sought on the revisions,” the source added, adding that this might involve extending HQ IDS and transferring specific directorates under the defence services.

According to sources, the reform will also be in accordance with the services’ further integration in intelligence, operations, logistics, and long-term procurement plans.

One of the first proposals for the restructure was to create two Vice CDSs under the CDS, one to oversee intelligence, operations, and logistics, and the other to oversee force structuring and capability development in accordance with the Atmanirbhar Bharat concept.

The updated Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services (DFPDS-2021) allows for a 500 percent increase in the CISC’s financial powers (for specific schedules), which varies with different IDS schedules.


One of the major missions of the CDS was to oversee a series of studies and simultaneous talks across the three services, and India’s first CDS, General Bipin Rawat, was aggressively promoting this transformation.

While the creation of the joint theatre commands was expected to take three to four years, with four commanders-in-chief from the Army, Navy, and Air Force defining the theatre commands’ organisational structure and composition first, their structures were expected to be finalised by March-April this year.

A decision has yet to be made following the death of Gen Rawat in a helicopter crash last year and the delay in the appointment of the next CDS.

However, top service commanders have convened twice this year in Jaipur and Lucknow to discuss their structure and other aspects of operations.

The Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force are currently divided into 17 commands. Currently, the goal is to combine them into four integrated theatre commands: a marine theatre command, an air defence command, and two land-based western and eastern theatre commands.

According to current plans, the Army’s northern command and the IAF’s AOC (J&K) will be kept out of the theatre commands for the time being due to security concerns.

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