Cabinet Committee on Security approves CDS creation

Last Updated 25 December 2019, 04:59 IST

The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the creation of the post of the Chief of Defence Staff, who as the head of yet-to-be-formed Department of Military Affairs would be the single-point interface between the government and several branches of the armed forces besides guiding the government decisions on procurement, staffing and training as the permanent chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee.

The CDS, sources said, would be a four-star officer who would work exclusively on matters within the purview of the department of military affairs while larger issues dealing with the defence of the country would be dealt with by the Department of Defence.

Since the Chiefs of the Army, Air Force and Navy are also four-star officers, the CDS would be the first among the equals.

The Centre is yet to announce the name of the first CDS though the outgoing Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat is widely speculated to be the first one. Gen Rawat retires on December 31.

One of the crucial tasks of the CDS would be “establishment of joint/theatre commands” for “optimal utilisation of resources.” Currently there are 18 commands distributed among the Indian Army (7), Indian Air Force (7) and Indian Navy (4).

While CDS will not exercise any “military command including over the three Service Chiefs”, he would have to bring in “jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance” within three years.

Lack of jointness during the Kargil conflict – mostly clearly visible from the delayed decision of deploying the air force – led to the suggestion of creating a post of the CDS by the Kargil Review Committee. Subsequently, a Group of Minister headed by then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani endorsed the decision in 2001.

However, for more than 15 years, the decision was kept in abeyance with the centre claiming lack of political consensus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his second innings announced the creation of the CDS on August 15 and a committee under the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in November submitted its report laying the ground rules for such an appointment.

According to a press note issued by the government, the tri-service agencies on cyber and space warfare would be under the control of the CDS, who would function as military adviser to the Nuclear command authority.

On tri-service matters, he would be the principal advisor to the Defence Minister.

The CDS will have a key role in India's military procurement as he would be a member of the Defence Acquisition Council chaired by the Defence Minister and the Defence Planning Committee headed by the National Security Advisor.

Besides the three Services, the integrated headquarters of the Ministry of Defence, Territorial Army and works related to the Army, Air Force and Navy would come under the new department headed by the CDS. The office of the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) would be subsumed in the CDS.

The Department of Military Affairs would be the fifth department under the Defence Ministry, which currently houses Department of Defence, Department of Defence Production, Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare and Defence R&D (DRDO).

After he retires, the CDS would not be eligible to hold any government office whereas private employment without the approval of the government can happen only after 5 years.

(Published 24 December 2019, 09:48 IST)

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