Chief of Defence Staff (Indian Armed Forces)

Published: August 16, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the formation of the Chief of Defence Staff post in his address to the nation on Independence day.

What is the Chief of the Defence Staff?

  • The Chief of Defence Staff is a high ranking officer who is responsible for the command of the entire armed forces and acts as the direct point of communication and makes recommendations for the higher command.
  • In a few countries, like the former Soviet Union and in the US till the 1960s, the Chief of Defence Staff was a five-star rank officer. However, in India, the Chief of Defence Staff will either be a four-star or a five-star rank officer who may be selected from the senior-most officer in the midst of the three Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force.
  • Chief of Defence Staff will rank higher than all 3 service chiefs and will rank equal to the Cabinet Secretary of India.

Why is the Chief of Defence Staff necessary?

  • It has become essential for the Indian Government to create the post for Chief of Defence Staff after 3 arms of the Indian Armed Forces encountered teething troubles in their efforts to dislodge the intruders from the Kargil region.
  • The Chief of Defence Staff will act as a single point of military advise for the Prime Minister on strategic issues.
  • The Chief of Defence Staff will be responsible for synergizing the long-term training, planning and operational maneuvering of the three services.
  • This will help reduce the wastage of money as it reduces service duplication and would allow the armed forces to be leaner and meaner for the fighting the wars of the future.?

Who has recommended the formation of the Chief of Defence Staff post?

The Naresh Chandra committee in 2012 had also recommended for the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

The post of a CDS was also one of the 99 recommendations made by the Lt. General D.B. Shekatkar (retd.) led Committee. This committee had 34 recommendations specifically pertaining to tri-service integration in the Indian Armed Forces and had submitted its report on December 2016.

What will the Chief of Defense Staff do?

  • The CDS will be responsible for interfacing with the NSA in the Defence Planning Group and the Defence Acquisition Council.
  • The CDS will also be responsible for setting the budgetary priorities of the Armed Forces on the basis of available capital outlay in the General Budget which will be defined for the three services.
  • The CDS will have to define the acquisition priorities for hardware while ensuring that no force-duplication takes place.
  • The CDS will also be the main point of contact for the overall preparedness of the Armed Forces and will also be responsible for maintaining military contact with the other militaries.
  • The CDS will also head the training, joint operations, the tri-service Andamans and Nicobar Command (ANC) and have significant financial powers deputed to him.
  • The CDS will also head the three tri-service commands (Strategic, Cyber, Space and Special Operations Command) each of which is held by either of three services (Army, Navy, and Airforce in rotation)

Further updates

  • The Defence Ministry of India has set up a high-powered committee (HOC) under the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.
  • This HPC will be made responsible for implementing the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) decision to create the Chief of Defence Staff post.
  • The HPC will also frame the terms of references and will have to submit its report in the next six weeks.

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