Indian Armed Forces planning to turn Mumbai into first tri-service common defence station

The Indian Armed Forces are planning to turn Mumbai into the first tri-service common defence station in the country for the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force (IAF) — a step aimed at achieving jointness among the three services ahead of the creation of integrated theatre commands, The Indian Express has learnt.

As of now, discussions to this effect are under way in the top military hierarchy and a decision is likely to be taken soon, officials said.

Currently, there are no common defence stations in India.

The Andaman and Nicobar command is a full-fledged command raised as a tri-service command in 2001.

Other efforts to bring in jointness among the services—such as inter-service postings—were brought in last year.

Noteworthy, a common defence station would mean that all facilities of the Army, Navy, IAF will be combined — including logistics, infrastructure, repair and maintenance as well as stores and supplies— so that they could be optimised and brought under a common lead service.

In the case of Mumbai, the Navy will be the lead service given that it has the largest presence there.

At present, wings of the three services are spread across Mumbai and its suburbs and operate separately.

Under the plan, logistics, infrastructure and administration will be brought under a common chain.

The Navy’s INS Hamla and INS Karanja, for example, are responsible for imparting logistics training to Naval personnel and housing a major armament depot respectively.

The Army’s ordnance depot, a separate training area, an air defence regiment and IAF units are planned to be combined for common usage by the three services.

An official said this will mean the logistics, services, and works of the individual services will be integrated so that there is a single system of delivery of supplies such as fuel and ration and common items can be repaired at one place.

“As per plans, the resources of the individual services will be shared by all and this would include infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and sports complexes; training facilities; as well as storages, repair and maintenance facilities and works,” the official said.

For example, the services of INHS Asvini — a Naval hospital in Mumbai — are also being used by the other two services.

A second official said this will lead to better optimisation and management of resources and avoid duplication of efforts since the idea is to have a single channel for funds and delivery and avoid redundancy.

Officials said that with Mumbai being the first common defence station being planned, Sulur (near Coimbatore) and Guwahati are likely to be chosen as locations for the second and third common defence stations.

While the lead service for Sulur is likely to be IAF, the Army will likely be the lead service for the Guwahati station.