After the "momentous" appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the next logical military reform would be to set up integrated theatre commands for better coordination of the three services, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane said on Wednesday.
At the same time, Gen Naravane said the process to set up the theatre commands - which combine the control of all armed forces according to geographical fronts - needed to be "deliberate, thoughtful and well-considered", and its fruition will take a "number of years".
Speaking at an event at the College of Defence Management in Secunderabad, the army chief said there was a need for everyone to work in a spirit of togetherness and trust with the national security interests being of paramount importance.
He added a note of caution and said that there might be a requirement for "mid-course corrections", according to a statement released by the army.
The Chief of Army Staff said he was optimistic about the future of integration of the armed forces, which he said was "an inevitability" as it would lead to "tri-services synergy" and optimisation of resources.
The comments by Gen Naravane reflected the force's thinking as well as readiness to support the plan moved by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat to improve the combat capabilities of the armed forces.
"The next logical step in the process of defence reforms was the formation of Integrated Theatre Commands to synergise the capabilities and combat potential of the three services during war and peace'," the army chief said.
As per the plan, each of the theatre commands will have units of the army, the navy and the air force and all of them will work as a single entity looking after security challenges in a specified geographical territory under an operational commander.
At present, the army, navy and the air force have separate commands.
In February, the Chief of Defence Staff said the air defence command, to be helmed by the Indian Air Force, would be rolled out by the beginning of next year.
He said the proposed peninsula command, to be formed by merging the Indian Navy's eastern and western commands, is likely to take shape by the end of 2021.
(With inputs from PTI)