March 21, 2015



The newly announced, Joint Special Operations Command (J-SOC) should not take ‘more than five years’ to take real shape. Slated to be under the Integrated Defence Services headquarters, the joint command will include the existing special forces of the Indian army, navy and air force. This was stated by a senior military official of the IDS HQ to the Millennium Post recently.

The tasks in this interregnum are developing the ‘overall operations philosophy, ‘operational command structure,’ and the mechanics of creating a ‘joint command’ intermingling the three services.

‘It needs the required focus and the required resources,’ the officer said. But he debunks the thought that it will need the central government to allocate ‘fresh funds.’ Saying that the joint command will be dominated by the army, the main resources that are readily deployed by the force for use of their special commandos, primarily the para commandos, will be transferred to the joint SFC.

For example, the new C-130J aircraft's 
, which is now under the Indian Air Force, will have to be transferred to the J-SOC, the official said.

Also the new inductions of the more specialized equipment's will be sourced by the army. The basic structure of the command will be evolved out of the command framework of the army. The forces will use the existing training establishments of the special forces. But if a need is felt, new institutions will be established.

The preliminary work for developing papers on these parameters has begun at the IDS HQ. These documents will be circulated amongst the individual service headquarters and their opinions sought.

Considering that these services will have to eventually cede control over men and materiel, the task of creating a consensus will not be easy. The force structure of the J-SOC will include, besides the Paras, and Para Special Forces, the Marine Commandos of the navy and the Garud commandos of the air force. The ‘Ghatak’ special forces of the infantry battalions of the army will also be assimilated within the J-SOC. The long overdue Command, will have a major role to play in the non-conventional and fourth generation warfare.

The three new joint commands were announced in October last: the other two are aerospace and cyber security commands. With the addition of these three, the total number of commands under IDS HQ has risen to five.

The other two existing joint commands are of the Special Forces, who are tasked to wage nuclear and missile warfare, and the Andaman and Nicobar command that oversees the operations in the Indian Ocean. Both these commands being very secretive and very little are known about the various activities that include, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

 Indian armed forces are now finally mulling the creation of three new unified commands to effectively tackle the rapidly expanding security threats and challenges in the fields of space, cyberspace and special operations.

The brass of Army, Navy and IAF are "informally'' discussing the "contours'' of the cyber, aerospace and special operations commands, which will synergize efforts and assets of the three services in these "critical areas'', sources said.

Once the "formal joint proposal'' of the three Services is finalized, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne will take it up with the government in his capacity as the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee. In fact, the "urgent need'' for the three new commands is likely to come up during the Combined Commanders' Conference to be addressed by the Prime Minister on October 19.

The prevalent view is that a three-star Army officer (Lt General) should head the Special Operations Command, while an equivalent rank from IAF (Air Marshal) can steer the Aerospace Command. The Cyber Command, in turn, will be headed by a Vice-Admiral from the Navy.

This means the commanders-in-chief of the three new commands will "not be rotated'' among the Army, Navy and IAF. India's two existing tri-Service commands - the Strategic Forces Command and the Andaman & Nicobar Command - as well as the integrated defence staff follow a "rotational'' policy at present.

"It will ensure the new command in question can be 'mothered' by a single Service on a continuous basis. The Army, after all, has domain expertise in special operations, IAF in aerospace and Navy in cyber and information technology. The commands will draw elements, assets and manpower from all the three services as well as the government below the three-stars,'' said a source.

The Indian defence establishment certainly needs to be geared for battles in space and cyberspace after the first three military domains of land, air and sea. It also needs to bring together the disparate special forces in Army, Navy, IAF and other forces under a unified command and control structure to execute strategic operations in tune with national security objectives.

China, for instance, is taking huge strides on the space and cyberspace fronts.
Cyber warfare, too, is a frontline military priority for China, with its "hacker brigades'' regularly breaking into computer networks of countries like India, US, the UK and Germany.