The government has cleared the name of the first-ever Chief of Defence Staff at a meeting held in New Delhi. The Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat who is formally retiring tomorrow is going to take over as the first-ever CDS. On Saturday the government issued a gazette in which the Service Rules of the Army, Navy and Air Force have been modified in an effort to enable the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). And also fixing the upper age limit at 65.
According to the gazette says, "They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the official gazette." Amendments have been made to Army Rules 1954, Air Force Regulations, 1964, Naval Regulations, 1965, Naval Ceremonial, Conditions of Service and Miscellaneous Regulations, 1963.
The service regulations had to be amended as the next logical step once the CDS post has been approved by the Union cabinet, but no fixed tenure for the CDS has been announced. According to the gazette, the tenure of service for the three service chiefs remains at three years or 62 years of age whichever comes first.
Just last week, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given approval for the creation of the post to be held by a four-star General and whose primary function is to be a principal military advisor to the defence minister.
Why CDS is important?
According to experts countries including the US, UK, France and Germany have a CDS-like post which helps in integrating military planning and operations.
The Indian Armed Forces have 17 single-Service commands, two tri-Service commands including Andaman & Nicobar Command and the Strategic Forces Command. A CDS is expected to help in bringing jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs, maintenance, etc. And he will also help in assessing plans for the 'Out of Area Contingencies' and other contingencies as well.
ROLE OF CDS
According to the Ministry of Defence, the CDS is 'first among equals' among all the service chiefs and he will help in streamlining weapons procurement procedures and integrate operations of the Indian armed forces- Army, Air Force and Navy. He will also head the Department of Military Affairs as well as being the military advisor for the government. The office of the CDS will have the authority to direct the service chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force and to create the theatre commands when needed.
Besides being a four-star from any of the services, it has been decided that the salary will be equal to that of a service chief.
Sharing his views Brig SK Chatterji (retd), "The government approval to the appointment of CDS addresses a long-pending infirmity in our higher military organisation. Till such time as the PM Modi had recently announced the decision to appoint a CDS, the expectations of the strategic the community were at best the creation of the post of a Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee."
The approval for the appointment of CDS answers the need for restructuring of higher military leadership, far more meaningfully. The CDS will also be the permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, unlike the current methodology of the Chairman being the senior-most Service Chief.
"The creation of a Department of Military Affairs is equally a momentous step. The office of the Defence Secretary was so far overloaded with a huge volume and variety of military issues, including those in which it had little expertise. This Department will now look after certain major areas to include, firstly, jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the Services. Secondly, the restructuring of Military Commands to Joint/ Theatre commands, and finally progressing indigenisation of the armed forces," he adds.
There were expectations of the CDS being a five star General or equivalent. This has not been accepted. However, no foreign army has such an arrangement, currently. The US, the British and in fact all major armies have four-star officers holding the ranks of CDS and Chiefs of the three services.
Equal Among Equals
"The issue of protocol and the requirement of the CDS being more equal among equals will need to be addressed and can be easily done. Further, the adoption of a five star General as CDS would have created quite a dissonance in the current order of precedence. The four-star CDS will be the Principal Military Advisor to the Defence Minister and Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority. On issues of the respective services, the Chiefs of the service concerned will render advice," Chatterji explains.
"Viewed dispassionately, as a first step, this is a momentous step that addresses the ultimate goal of jointness and also ensures political leadership gets the right advice directly from the services."