Chief of Defence Staff
What is the role of the Chief of Defence Staff?
- The Government’s decision in 2019 to create the post of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a long-pending demand to bring in tri-service synergy and integration, is the biggest top-level military reform since independence.
- In 2019, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given approval to create the post of CDS in the rank of a four-star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief and then Army Chief Gen. Rawat was appointed to the post.
- The CDS is also the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister and Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC).
- In addition, the Department of Military Affairs was created as the fifth department in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the CDS functioning as its Secretary.
- The broad mandate of the CDS includes bringing about jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance of the three Services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office.
- He acts as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on all tri-Services matters. However, the three Chiefs continue to advise the Defence Minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services.
- The CDS do not exercise any military command, including over the three Service Chiefs.
- The CDS is also meant to bring about synergy and optimise procurements, training and logistics and facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/ theatre commands.
- The specialised tri-service divisions — special operations, defence cyber and defence space — were also brought under the ambit of the CDS.
- Interestingly, while capital procurements are still with the Department of Defence (DoD), the prioritisation is with the CDS.
Why in News?
- Setting the stage for appointment of the next Chief of Defence Staff, the Government has amended Service Rules of the Army, Navy and Air Force, allowing retired Service Chiefs and three-star officers eligible for consideration for the country’s top military post.
- However, with an age limit that the retired officer should not have attained 62 years on the date of appointment, retired Service Chiefs are largely ruled out, especially so for the present consideration.
- As the Government considers several officers for the post, this amendment makes all three-star rank officers who have retired in the last two years eligible, as Lieutenant Generals in the Army, Vice-Admirals in the Navy and Air Marshals in the Air Force retire at the age of 60.
- The gazette notification of December 2019, before the appointment of the first CDS, did not specifically state that serving officers of Lieutenant General rank and equivalent are eligible to be considered.
- Gen. Bipin Rawat, who had served as the 27th Army Chief from December 31, 2016 till December 31, 2019, took over as the first CDS on January 1, 2020. He was killed in a chopper crash on December 8, 2021. The post of CDS has been lying vacant since then.
- The age limit for the CDS’s post is 65 years with no fixed tenure defined, unlike for the Service Chief which is three years of tenure or 62 years of age.
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