There were many reasons for creating the elite National Defence Academy. I am not sure if this is true, but many ex-NDA officers have mentioned in passing that maybe the idea was also for cadets of the Army, Navy and Air Force to train together, bond in the manner only possible in the sweat, blood, mud and grime of the academy and then, when they went on to serve in the Army, Navy and Air Force, that bonding was expected to, somewhere down the line, help in what the services like to call “jointness”.
Think of “jointness” as an elaborate orchestra playing a highly complicated musical piece, never one note off-key. Think of it as perfection personified; and in war, think of the Army, Navy and Air Force together fighting a mind-numbingly complex war in perfect harmony. This is what is expected. And, its not happening.
NDA has produced, and continues to produce fantastic officers. It also creates bonding that is the envy of all military academies. However, the three services have not been able to take forward the magic of NDA. “Jointness” remains on paper. The ability of the Army, Navy and Air Force to fight together is not what it should be.
China boasts of the largest military force in the world. It has five theater commands. The United States of America’s military has the most advanced weaponry in the world and a global footprint. It fights wars everywhere. The US has nine theater commands; six geographic and three, functional.
India has none.
Many experts argue that India, given its military commitments, does not need theater commands. I disagree. The solution has to be bigger than the problem. The caliber of your ammunition has to be far more than what your enemy can withstand. If we want our military to be feared and respected across the globe, theater commands are amongst the first and primary steps. A typical theater command will have a common pool of resources, will exponentially boost inter-operability and will present the three services as a unified and potent weapon.