What are the key provisions of the Inter-Services Organisation Bill, of 2023? What is the current status of the Indian Armed Forces? Read further to know.
Recently, the Inter-Services Organisations (Command, Control, and Discipline) Bill, 2023 was introduced in Lok Sabha.
The aim of the bill is to provide designated military commanders with enhanced powers to ensure discipline among soldiers, irrespective of their service affiliation.
This move is particularly significant as it comes in anticipation of the establishment of integrated or joint commands, which will be under the operational control of a single three-star general from the Indian Army, Navy, or IAF.
Key Provisions of Inter-Services Organisation Bill
The key provisions of the Inter-Services Organisations Bill are:
Establishment of Integrated Theatre Commands: The proposed legislation will ensure the requisite command and control of the existing inter-services organizations as well as the proposed integrated theatre commands that are set to be created in the coming months.
Empowering Military Commanders: The Bill seeks to empower the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command of an inter-service organization to maintain discipline and ensure the proper discharge of duties of all personnel from the army, navy, and IAF serving under their command.
Enabling Provision for Joint Services Organisations: The new bill is an enabling provision for joint services organizations, where personnel from all three services are posted. It will ensure greater coordination and communication between different military services and their commands.
Simplification of Military Governance: At present, military personnel are governed by different acts and rules of their respective services, such as the Air Force Act, of 1950, the Army Act, of 1950, and the Navy Act, of 1957. The proposed legislation seeks to simplify military governance by establishing a uniform set of rules and regulations for all personnel serving under the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command of an inter-service organization.
Importance 0f Inter-Services Organisation Bill
The Inter-services Organisation Bill is important for the following reasons:
- It empowers the central government to constitute an Inter-services Organisation, which may include a joint services command, comprising units or service personnel of the Air Force, Army, and Navy.
- It allows placing these units or service personnel under the command of the Commander-in-Chief or the Officer-in-Command, streamlining command and control.
- It solves the problem of personnel serving in Inter-services Organisations needing to be reverted to their parent Service units for any disciplinary or administrative action, which is time-consuming and financially cumbersome.
- It avoids multiple proceedings under the respective Service Acts, expediting the disposal of cases, and maintaining a higher standard of discipline.
- It leads to greater integration and joint manship among Armed Forces personnel, while also saving time and public money.
Current Status of Indian Armed Forces
At present, the Indian armed forces have 17 commands, with 7 commands each of the Army and the Air Force, and 3 commands of the Navy. Each command is headed by a 4-star rank military officer.
One of the notable developments in recent years has been the establishment of joint commands in the Indian armed forces. The Andaman and Nicobar Command is the first tri-service theatre command of the Indian Armed Forces, based at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India.
The command is responsible for the security of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and has the mandate to provide security in the Bay of Bengal and the eastern part of the Indian Ocean. The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) is the other tri-service command, which looks after the delivery and operational control of the country’s nuclear assets.
However, there are still challenges in integrating the armed forces. Soldiers from their respective services are governed by different Acts of Parliament, with the Navy Act of 1957, the Air Force Act of 1950, and the Army Act of 1950. In a current joint services setup, an army soldier commanded by a navy officer would have to be sent back to his parent unit for any disciplinary proceedings. The navy officer does not have administrative powers over the said soldier. There is an urgent need to build integrated war-fighting machinery within budgetary constraints through the creation of joint commands.
In addition to these joint commands, there are also some tri-service organizations such as the Defence Intelligence Agency, Defence Cyber Agency, and Defence Space Agency, which provide crucial support to the Indian armed forces in their operations.
Why Reforms in the Indian Army is Important?
Modernization: The Indian Army is still reliant on outdated equipment and technology, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to other armies. Reform is important to modernize the army and bring it up to date with the latest technology and equipment.
Integration: The Indian Army operates in silos, with the three branches – Army, Navy, and Air Force – functioning independently. Reform is important to create a more integrated and coordinated force, which can work together seamlessly to achieve common objectives.
Professionalism: The Indian Army has a reputation for being a highly professional and disciplined force. However, there have been instances of misconduct and corruption, which have tarnished its image. Reform is important to strengthen the accountability and transparency of the army, and ensure that it maintains its high standards of professionalism.
Human Resource Management: The Indian Army is facing a shortage of officers and a high attrition rate. Reform is important to address these challenges and create a more efficient and effective system for the recruitment, training, and retention of officers.
Strategic Planning: The Indian Army needs to develop a long-term strategic vision that takes into account the evolving geopolitical landscape and emerging threats. Reform is important to create a more forward-looking and strategic planning process, which can help the army to anticipate and respond to future challenges.
Jointness: The Indian Army needs to work more closely with the other branches of the armed forces, as well as with other agencies such as intelligence and law enforcement. Reform is important to create a more joint and collaborative approach, which can leverage the strengths of different agencies and create a more effective response to security challenges.
Article Written By: Priti Raj