While addressing the nation from the Red Fort on the occasion of Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a historic announcement when he said that India will now have a Chief of Defence Staff. The talk of the creation of this post, who will be above the three Service Chiefs, has been going on for long, but it could not be implemented due to various reasons.
Our forces are courageous and always prepared to give a befitting answer to those who disturb tranquility in the nation.
To further improve coordination and preparedness, India will now have a Chief of Defence Staff. pic.twitter.com/IULeoV3Zv6
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 15, 2019
Prime Minister Modi said although at present there is coordination among the different services, with changing times, there is a need of the entire defence force to strategise as a single unit, not in pieces. All three services must go ahead at the same pace. Therefore, considering the changing war and security scenario in the world, the government has decided to form the post of Chief of Defence Staff. The PM said that the CDS will be above the three service chiefs.
The Chief of Defence Staff will act as a single place defence advisor to the central government. The officer will be head of the three services – the Army, Air Force and Navy, and it is reported that CDS will be a five-star military officer. The service chiefs are four-star officers.
The office of the CDS will ensure better coordination between the three services, and will create synergy among them. It will also help in reconcile any differences that may arise among the different services in various matters. The CDS will play a vital role in strategizing for a robust and cost-effective national defence policy. The CDS will ensure cooperation and joint action of the three services in the areas of budget, equipment purchase, training and military operations planning etc. Essentially, the creation of Chief of Defence Staff will mean that India will have an integrated military, not three distinct military arms. While the individual forces will be responsible for operational preparedness, the CDS will be responsible for the overall defence preparedness of the country.
Although exact modalities are yet to be finalised, it is speculated that procurement and budget allocation of three services will be under CDS. It is expected that CDS will lead the modernisation and equipment upgradation programs of all three arms of India military, bringing in synergy among them.
The recommendation for Chief of Defence Staff was first made by the Kargil Review Committee which was formed after the Kargil war. The committee had said in its report that the CDS should be a five-star military officer, which would be the single point military adviser to the Defence Minister.
A group of ministers formed in 2011 to look into reforms in India’s national security had also recommended the creation of the post of CDS.
The Naresh Chandra task force, formed to review the recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee, had suggested the creation of a Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee, which was formed in 2001. It was created as a compromise of creation of CDS, which was facing opposition from some sections. The CoSC is assisted by the Integrated Defence Staff. The role of CoSC is assumed by the seniormost officer among the three service chiefs, and this post does not have power over other service chiefs. At present Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa is the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
With the creation of CDS, the post of CoSC is likely to be discontinued as it will become redundant. The Integrated Defence Staff headquarters will become the secretariat of the Chief of Defence Staff.
Before the announcement of CDS, several other significant recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee has been implemented, which includes appointment of a full time National Security Advisor, improved air surveillance using satellites and UAVs, creation of Defence Intelligence Agency, setting up of The National Technical Research Organisation, a centralised communication and electronic intelligence agency.
At present India is the only major country which does not have a chief of defence staff. The modalities of creation of this post will be completed in the next 2-3 months. According to speculations in media, current Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat could be appointed as the first Chief of Defence Staff of India.