India to get its First Chief of Defence Staff

The Cabinet Committee On Security (CCS) chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the creation of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post that will function as a single point of contact for different branches of armed forces. CCS also approved the report of a high-level committee headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, which finalised responsibilities and framework for operation of CDS.

In the present structure, the Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (CSC) is Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Bipin Rawat. However, he does not function in capacity of a CDS.

About Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

A CDS would be a four-star general- from either of the Indian Armed Forces- the Army, the Air Force or the Navy and will be payable to a salary equal to a service chief. The CDS post will have a fixed term, that is yet to be determined. [All five permanent members (P-5 nations) of United Nations Security Council (UNSC)- have equivalent posts].

Role of CDS: Chief of Defence Staff, described as ‘first among equals’ among service chiefs, will be tasked with trimming weapons procurement procedures and integrating operation of Indian armed forces- Army, Air Force, Navy. CDA will act as a military adviser to Government of India and will also head Department of Military Affairs. CDS would also be a single-point military advisor whose advice would be binding on service chiefs of Army, Air Force, Navy and who would have authority to direct them, along with authority to create theatre commands as and when needed.

Background

To further sharpen coordination between forces and to make forces even more effective, the Chief of Defence Staff – CDS position was announced by PM Modi during his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2019 year. The concept was also strongly backed by late Manohar Parrikar, who was Defence Minister for two years during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first term. However, a CDS to oversee military was first recommended by the Kargil Review Committee– a committee set up after Kargil War (1999), to examine lapses in security after war, in which Pakistani soldiers infiltrated into India, occupied key positions in Kargil mountains and triggered the war.

Other Committees: Government’s approval to CDS post that will strengthen India’s collective defence capabilities, also comes after considering-

  • Naresh Chandra Committee Report– ‘Report of Task Force on National Security’
  • General Shekatkar Committee Report– ‘Committee of Experts on Enhancing Capability and Rebalance Defence Expenditure’, chalked out a strategy for higher defence management.

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