India is working towards creating three new tri-Service organisations to handle the rapidly-expanding challenges in the crucial domains of space, cyberspace and clandestine warfare, which will be headed by two-star generals, in a synergised manner.
The ball will be set rolling by the creation of the Defence Cyber Agency (DCA), which will be followed by the Defence Space Agency (DSA) and the Special Operations Division (SOD), Times of India in a report said on Friday.
As per IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, also the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, these will be “interim arrangements” till the full-fledged Cyber, Aerospace and Special Operations Commands can take shape in the years ahead.
Sources say the plan is to “upgrade and expand” the existing Defence Information Assurance and Research Agency into the DCA. The DSA, in turn, will be created by pooling the resources of the three Services, along with finalisation of the Defence Space Roadmap 2030 to go beyond the already-identified thrust areas of intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, communication and navigation.
As for the SOD, while the Army, Navy and IAF will continue to retain their own special forces, “a new central pool” will also be established for joint command and control of unconventional warfare capabilities.
With the three services often engaging in turf-wars, India has only two existing 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 to handle the country’s nuclear arsenal in 2003.
But the need for unified structures to deal with threats in the new battlegrounds of space and cyberspace, after the traditional ones of land, air and sea, has now become urgent. China, for instance, has developed potent military space and cyberspace capabilities, ranging from advanced ASAT (anti-satellite) and directed-energy laser weapons to cyber-weapons.
Some countries now even consider cyber-weapons to be the game-changing weapons of the future, almost akin to use of nuclear bombs for the first time in 1945. At a seminar on Wednesday, for instance, deputy chief of integrated defence staff (operations) Vice Admiral Girish Luthra said, “Cyberspace applications today include surveillance, intelligence and actual conduct of military operations – both defensive and offensive.”
“The cyber domain also offers an attractive option for asymmetric warfare in terms of offsetting conventional superiority. Further, attacks on critical ICT (information and communications technology) networks can provide significantly higher military advantages than physical attacks,” he added.