The post of Chief of Defence Staff, once hailed as a major step to improve inter-service coordination, cooperation and operational integration in the Indian military, lies vacant for the last five months with no sign of immediate appointment.
Since a helicopter crash in December last year claimed the life of the country’s first CDS General Bipin Rawat, the Indian military remains headless. Speculations that General M.M. Naravane would assume charge as country’s second CDS a day after laying down office as the Army Chief on April 30 this year, also turned out to be untrue.
General Rawat took charge of post of CDS on January 1, 2020 after demitting office as the Army Chief in December-end in 2019. The Department of Military Affairs was created where he held the charge of Secretary of the newly created unit. With no appointment of new CDS, there are also speculations that the two posts – CDS and Secretary DMA – which solely late General Rawat was in charge of, will be split and held by two persons.
The CDS acts as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-services matters.
Idea behind creating the CDS’ post was that India should not have a fragmented approach. CDS’ role was to ensure that the military power works in unison and all the three services move simultaneously.
The CDS was planned taken into consideration the changing nature of warfare, security environment and national security challenges. The aim was to bring about jointness between the armed forces of the country in training, procurement, staffing and operations, to enhance the quality of military advice given to the political leadership through integration of service inputs, and to develop and foster expertise in military affairs.
The CDS was working exclusively with military matters that fall within the purview of the Department of Military Affairs and the unit headed by CDS deals with the Armed Forces of the Union– the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence comprising Army Headquarters, Naval Headquarters, Air Headquarters and Defence Staff Headquarters and the Territorial Army.
Also, the Department of Military Affairs deals with works relating to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and procurement exclusive to the services except capital acquisitions, as per prevalent rules and procedures.
It has been promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the three services and facilitating in restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands.
As the post of CDS lies vacant, Indian military is looking upon the government to expedite the process to ensure that the proposal mooted during late Gen Bipin Rawat moves ahead.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)