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Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)- About, Role and Key Functions

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 2: Security- Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)- About, Role and Key Functions_40.1

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)- Background

  • It’s now over five months since the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat was killed in a chopper crash in the Nilgris in Tamil Nadu along with his wife.
  • The reason for the delay, official sources say, is because the Government is reassessing the concept of the post as well as the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and is looking to streamline the setup.

Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)


Who is Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)?

  • Background: In December 2019, the Union Cabinet had given approval to create the post of CDS in the rank of a four-star General and then Army Chief Gen Rawat was appointed for the post.
  • About: CDS is the rank of a four-star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief and then Army Chief Gen.
    • General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS.
  • Organization: The DMA was created as the fifth department in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with the CDS functioning as its Secretary.
  • Mandate: The 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.”


Key Roles of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

  • Integration: CDS brings in tri-service synergy and integration among three military services of India. Formation of CDS is considered as the biggest top-level military reform since independence of India.
  • 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.
    • This done 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.
  • Organizational Role: The CDS would is also the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister and Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC).
    • CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three Service Chiefs.
    • However, the three Chiefs will continue to advise the Defence Minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services,”.
  • Role in Defense Procurement: While capital procurements are still with the DoD, the prioritisation is with the CDS.



Associated Concerns with Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post

  • Overlapping Roles and Responsibilities: Dichotomy in the roles and responsibilities with the several hats worn by the CDS and also overlap in responsibilities between the DMA and DoD.
  • Ambitious Targets and Timeline:  ambitious timelines set for the creation of theatre commands and also the number of commands and their envisaged format have created problems for proper functioning of CDS.
    • An ambitious agenda was set for the first CDS to reorganise the Indian armed forces into integrated theatre commands.
    • Differences continue to remain on certain aspects with the Air Force having some reservations with regard to the air defence command and the naming and rotation of the theatre commands among others.
    • Additional studies were ordered, which are currently underway but the overall process has stalled in the absence of a CDS and continued differences.


Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)- Way Forward

  • Government should have a CDS with operational powers who will after due legislative changes have theatre commanders report to him while the Service Chiefs will look after the raise, train and sustain functions of respective Services.
  • In this direction, it is being looked at if the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) can function as the Secretary DMA reporting directly to the CDS.

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