The Union cabinet on Tuesday approved the creation of Chief of Defence Staff, a much-awaited demand of the military. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its nod to the charter of duties of the CDS who will function as the principal military adviser to the defence minister. He will also head the new Department of Military Affairs.
However, the government is yet to announce the name of country's first CDS. Incumbent Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat, who will superannuate on December 31, is the front runner for the post. Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane has already been appointed as the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to succeed Gen Rawat.
“The cabinet has approved creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff of the rank of a four-star General with salary equivalent to Service Chiefs, and will head the Department of Military Affairs to be created under Ministry of Defence and will function as its Secretary,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting.
The appointment of CDS was announced by Prime Minister Modi in his Independence Day address from the rampart of historic Red Fort. Following the announcement, a committee under National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was formed to recommend on the role and charter of duties of the CDS. The CCS, last month, accepted the panel's report.
According to a statement issued by the government, the Department of Military Affairs headed by the CDS will deal with multiple areas including works relating to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force; procurement exclusive to the Services except capital acquisitions, as per prevalent rules and procedures; Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence comprising Army Headquarters, Naval Headquarters, Air Headquarters and Defence Staff Headquarters; and the Territorial Army.
Mentioning the mandate of the Department of Military Affairs, the government statement said it will be for promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the Services through joint planning and integration of their requirements; facilitation of restructuring of Military Commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands; and promoting 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 Raksha Mantri (defence minister) on all tri-Services matters," the statement said while adding that the three Chiefs will continue to advise the defence minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services.
"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," the statement further said.
The government also said that the CDS will administer tri-services organisations. Tri-service agencies/organisations/commands related to Cyber and Space will be under the command of the CDS.
CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Raksha Mantri and Defence Planning Committee chaired by NSA. It will function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.
The functions of the CDS also include: Bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc of the three Services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office; ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure and rationalise it through jointness among the services; implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP), and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow up of Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP); and assign inter-Services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals based on the anticipated budget.
The office will bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services aimed at augmenting combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure.