Centre To Appoint Chief Of Defence Staff: What It Means For Armed Forces

New Delhi: 

The centre’s move to create a post of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in one of the single biggest reforms in the armed forces will help improve synergy among the three branches of the military, say analysts.

In his Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the move to appoint a CDS “to make the forces even more effective”.

Who is CDS

A CDS, a high-ranking officer of either the Army, Navy or Air Force, will be senior to the service chiefs and the single point of contact between the armed forces and the Prime Minister.

Role of CDS

The CDS is meant to streamline and prioritise defence spending to meet the requirements of India’s national security. The CDS will help prevent duplication, streamline logistics and improve training. The CDS will also directly advise the Defence Minister and the Cabinet Committee on Security.

What’s the present structure

The Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee is Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, but he does not function in the capacity of a CDS, being proposed now. Other countries like the US, France, the UK and China all have a Chief of Defence Staff.


The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will be the single point of contact between the armed forces

First recommendation for CDS

A Chief of Defence Staff to oversee the military was first recommended by a committee set up after the Kargil war of 1999. The committee was set up to examine the lapses in security after the war which was triggered by Pakistani soldiers infiltrating into India and occupying key heights in the mountains of Kargil. It called for a Chief of Defence Staff as a single-point military adviser to the Defence Minister. The concept was strongly backed by Manohar Parrikar, who was Defence Minister for two years during PM Modi’s first term.

Long road to reforms

After the Kargil Review Committee report, a Group of Ministers headed by then Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani had explored it and recommended the post of CDS with a tri-service joint planning staff headquarters. The recommendation did not progress over the years, reportedly because of the lack of political consensus and objections from some sections of the armed forces and the bureaucracy.

Reactions to CDS announcement

“The announcement of the Institution of CDS by PM Modi has been made keeping in view of the much needed reform to streamline and further improve the coordination among the 3 Forces and their functioning. CDS will have a long lasting and a positive impact on India’s security,” said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

“Thank you PM Modi for announcing historic step of institution of CDS. This step will make our national security more effective and more economical. It will ensure better jointmanship and multi-disciplinary  coordination. Salute!” said former Army chief General Ved Prakash Malik (retired), who was Army chief during the Kargil war.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to set up the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is Independent India’s biggest Defence reform. I’ve been pursuing this long-pending key recommendation of the Kargil committee report for years now,” BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said.

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