The Union Cabinet, which met on 24 December 2019, approved the creation of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the charter of duties. The CDS who will be above the three Service Chiefs has been long pending demand as part of higher level military reforms for a single point military advisor to the Government. The CDS will be a four star General with perks and emoluments equivalent to Service Chiefs and the CDS will also head the Department of Military Affairs to be created within the Ministry of Defense and function as its Secretary, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
  1. The Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the recommendations of the Implementation Committee headed by the National Security Adviser (NSA) on the role and charter of the CDS.
  2. Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat who is set to superannuate on December 31 is the front runner for the post. Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane has already been appointed as the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to succeed Gen Rawat.
  3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day address this year, announced the appointment of a CDS who will be above the three Chiefs.
  4. An Implementation Committee headed by the National Security Adviser was constituted to determine and finalise the “exact responsibilities, an enabling framework” for this new post and all other issues involved to ensure smooth operationalization with a 90 day time frame to submit their report to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
  5. The Government also recently informed the Parliament that the CDS would come in the ambit of ‘Right to Information Act’, in accordance with the provisions of RTI Act, 2005.
Single-point military adviser
  1. The CDS will act as the single-point military adviser to the government on military and strategic issues and will also oversee common service issues like procurement, training and logistics.
  2. The recently created specialised tri service divisions, special operations, cyber and space will come under the ambit of the CDS. The Government had recently named two star officers from the three services who will now oversee the setting up of the organisations.
  3. While each of the divisions will draw personnel from all three services, the Special operations division headquartered at Agra will be headed by the Army, Defence Cyber Agency (DCA) based in Delhi will be headed by the Navy and Defence Space Agency based in Bengaluru headed by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
  4. With the impending announcement, the recent Army Commanders Conference had debated the need for creating arrangements and structures to synergise pave way for effective integration and discussed the “requirement of a Joint Services Act.” Currently each Service has individual Act passed by the Parliament.
  5. In 2012, the Naresh Chandra committee recommended the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) as a midway to allay apprehensions over the CDS. 
  6. Currently, the senior most of the three Chiefs functions as the Chairman of the COSC but it an additional role and the tenures have been very short.
  7. The CDS was also one of the 99 recommendations made by the Lt General D.B. Shekatkar (Retd) Committee which submitted its report in December 2016 and had 34 recommendations pertaining to tri-service integration.
  8. The issue of the single point military adviser and the creation of theatre commands have been on the agenda of the government in the previous term as well. This was emphasised by Mr. Modi discussion with the Combined Commanders Conference at Dehradun in 2017.
  9. A pointer to the impending announcement was made by Mr. Modi in his speech on Kargil Vijay Diwas this year where he stressed on “jointness” and said it was time to connect among three services in terms of “action and system.”
Role and responsibilities of CDS:
  1. Act as the Principal Military Adviser to Raksha Mantri on tri-Services matters. The three Chiefs will continue to advise RM on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services
  2. CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three Service Chiefs;
  3. CDS will administer tri-services organisations. Their military command, will be with the Chief of the duly notified Service, which has a predominant role in effective functioning of that specific tri-service organization. However, Tri-services agencies/organizations/ commands related to Cyber and Space will be under the command of the CDS.
  4. Provide integrated inputs of the Services to relevant authorities.
  5. CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council and Defence Planning Committee.
  6. Bring about jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc. of the three Services within three years of the first CDS assuming office;
  7. Ensure optimal utilization of infrastructure and rationalize it;
  8. Enhance the share of indigenous equipment;
  9. Evaluate plans for 'Out of Area Contingencies', as well as other contingencies such as Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief;
  10. Implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP), and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow-up of Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP);
  11. Assign inter-Services prioritization to capital acquisition proposals based on the anticipated budget;
  12. Integrate and rationalise international cooperation plans;
  13. Prepare strategy papers on military matters for consideration of the competent authority;
  14. Bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services aimed at augmenting combat capabilities of the Armed Forces. This may, inter-alia; entail rationalization of facilities. Use of indigenous equipment across the whole spectrum. He will identify and end obsolete practices, which may have crept in due to the colonial legacy.
  15. Build trust and confidence in the rank and file.
  16. Prepare for Raksha Mantri an empirical and objective Report on annual achievements in jointness during the year