Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat has been named India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). General Rawat has been named the first CDS a day before he is scheduled to retire from service after his three-year term as the Chief of Army Staff. General Rawat was the frontrunner for the post that was announced just a few days ago. The CDS will serve as the single-point advisor to the government on all matter related to the military. He will also be responsible for better synergy between the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had first announced the position during his Independence Day speech. The recommendation to appoint a CDS was first made by a committee that examined the military's performance during the 1999 Kargil conflict. The implementation of the recommendation had since been pending.
The role of responsibilities of the CDS:
  1. The Chief of Defence Staff would create synergy in operations and finances for all three armed forces.
  2. Procurement of military equipment for all the three armed forces would be one of the key responsibilities of the CDS.
  3. The officer would act as the sole advisor to the government on all military matters as per the Kargil Review Committee in 1999.
  4. A Chief of Defence Staff would be the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-services matters.
  5. CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council and Defence Planning Committee.
  6. The officer would also work to bring in seamless coordination 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. Enhance the share of indigenous equipment.
  8. Implement five-year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP), and the two-year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow-up of Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP).
  9. Assign inter-services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals based on the anticipated budget.
  10. Prepare strategy papers on military matters for consideration of the competent authority.
  11. A CDS will identify and end obsolete practices, which may have crept in due to the colonial legacy. 
  1. The proposal for a CDS has been there for two decades. The K Subrahmanyam committee appointed after the Kargil conflict of 1999 to recommend higher military reforms first made it. 
  2. The group of ministers under the chairmanship of the then deputy prime minister L K Advani had also endorsed the Kargil Review Committee’s report.
  3. Then PM Vajpayee’s Cabinet Committee on Security had also approved the appointment of CDS. However, lack of consensus and apprehensions among services meant it never moved forward. 
  4. In 2012, the Naresh Chandra high-powered committee recommended the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) as a midway to allay apprehensions over the CDS. The recommendations were biased towards bureaucracy found to be a diluted form of CDS.
  5. The CDS is also one of the 99 recommendations made by the Lt General D B Shekatkar (retd) Committee, which submitted its report in 2019, and which had 34 recommendations pertaining to the tri-services. 
  6. Even Lt General D S Hooda, former Northern Army Commander and surgical strike strategist after the Uri episode, recommended CDS when he was detailed by the Congress to frame its manifesto before the elections. 
  7. In the absence of a CDS, presently the senior-most of the three Chiefs functions as the Chairman COSC. But it is an additional role and the tenures have been very short.