Defence Services, India: Tri-service agencies

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Special Operations; Cyber Agency; Space Agency

2019: A beginning

Agencies take shape for spl ops, space, cyber war, May 16, 2019: The Times of India

The three triservice agencies to handle the critical modern warfare domains of special operations, cyberspace and space are taking shape, with twostar officers being appointed to head them.

Maj Gen A K Dhingra, from the 1 Para-Special Forces unit, will be the first commander of the Special Operations Division, while Rear Admiral Mohit Gupta will head the new Defence Cyber Agency. Air Vice Marshal S P Dharkar will head the Defence Space Agency, though his name has not been officially announced yet.

These three agencies, which will become fully operational by October-November, are truncated versions of the original proposal to have full-fledged commands under three-star officers to handle challenges in space, cyberspace and clandestine warfare, as was first reported by TOI.


‘New agencies to inject synergy in armed forces’

The Special Operations Division, for instance, will have just a small number of commandos under it, while the three services will retain the bulk of their special forces. The Army, for instance, has nine Para-Special Forces and five Para (airborne) battalions (each has 620 soldiers), while the Navy has 1,200 Marcos (marine commandos) and IAF 1,000 Garud commandos.

“The three new agencies are a small beginning to inject jointness and synergy among the Army, Navy and IAF. In the future, they can grow into full-fledged commands,” said an official.

The Paras, Marcos and Garuds have inducted highly specialised equipment, ranging from new longrange sniper rifles and man-portable anti-tank weapons systems to highspeed underwater scooters and hand-launched micro drones, over the years.

But they still work in separate silos. Several committees, including the Naresh Chandra Taskforce in May 2012, have strongly recommended that the disparate special forces of the armed forces and other agencies should be brought under a unified command and control structure to execute strategic operations in tune with national security objectives.

The Defence Space Agency will basically merge the existing Defence Imagery Processing and Analysis Centre in Delhi and the Defence Satellite Control Centre in Bhopal while the existing Defence Information Assurance and Research Agency is being upgraded to the Defence Cyber Agency.

India has only two unified commands till now. The first was the Andaman and Nicobar Command, established as a theatre command in 2001. The Strategic Forces Command, in turn, was created in 2003 to handle the country’s nuclear arsenal. But there are 17 single-service commands (Army 7, IAF 7 and Navy 3), which many believe are a waste of resources and infrastructure.

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