General Bipin Rawat will be first Chief of Defence Staff

Lalit Shastri

General Bipin Rawat has been named the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). As Chief of Defence Staff General Rawat will also head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) within the Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary.

Last week, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal to create the post of Chief of Defence Staff in the rank of a four-star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief.

The Chief of Defence Staff will be the principal military advisor to the Defence Minister and would be heading the new Department of Military Affairs to ensure “jointness” in training, logistics and procurement of the three services.

The Department of Military Affairs will promote “jointness” in procurement, training and staffing for the Services through joint planning and integration of their requirements. It will also facilitate the restructuring of Military Commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands and promote use of indigenous equipment by the Services.

The Chief of Defence Staff, apart from being the head of the Department of Military Affairs, will also be the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. He will act as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on all tri-Services matters. At the same time, the three Chiefs will continue to advise the Defence Minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services.

Significantly, the CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three Service Chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.

As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, the CDS will administer Tri-service agencies, organisations and commands related to Cyber and Space. Also, CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister and Defence Planning Committee chaired by the National Security Advisor.

The CDS will also function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on Independence Day,  August 15 2019, that after formation of the post of CDS, all the three forces will get effective leadership at the top level.

It was in July 1999, three days after the Kargil War that the Kargil Review Committee was set up to examine the sequence of events and make recommendations for the future. After considering thre recommendations of the KRC, the Group fo Ministers (GoM) had recommended the creation of the post for a Chief of the Defence Staff and this was accepted by the Cabinet Committee on Security but the matter remained on the backburner till Prime Minister Narendra Modi went ahead and announced on Independence Day, August 15 2019, that the post of CDS was being created. He said that after formation of this post, all the three forces will get effective leadership at the top level.

While it has taken 20 years to create the post of CDS, the KRC recommendation for a full time National Security Adviser was implemented on priority.

Inquiries by Newsroom24x7 have revealed that matters got delayed on the CDS front as there was continuous resistance and each Service chief has been opposed to the idea of a five star general taking over as CDS and exercising operational command over the three services. 

It is pertinent that the Chiefs of Staff Committee has always  been in place having all the three Service Chiefs as Members. The senior-most among the Chiefs of Staff assumed the charge of the Chairman of this Committee,  until retirement. General Rawat has been the current Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee in his position as Chief of the Army Staff, and his term was to expire on 31st December 2019. The Policy projections and proposals from this committee were being sent to the Defence Minister through the Defence Secretary. Now these would be routed through the CDS , who would also be the Secretary Department of Military Affairs, which will have a mix of Defence personnel and also civilian officers. Whereas Department of Defence will continue to function under the Defence Secretary as always.

With some insight into the working of the Department of Defence, it is obvious that DoD will continue to have total command over Budget, its planning, allocation and expenditure. The proposals forwarded to the Defence Minister directly by the CDS/Secretary Department of Military Affairs would also be eventually open to scrutiny and vetting by the Department of Defence through the Defence Secretary.

A four Star General as CDS would make him the first among equals,  and the three Service Chiefs, who will command the theater of war, would continue to remain the principal Adviser to the Defence Minister for the three Services under their command.

The four-star CDS has been given the position to act as a Principal coordinator for the three Services. One only hopes that the post doesn’t get reduced to a post-retirement sinecure for the chosen Chief of Staff.

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