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GS-II :
  • 23 August, 2019

  • Min Read

Chief Defence Service

GS-II: Chief Defence Service

Context

In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister announced the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff.

Who is Chief Defence Service?

  • The Chief of Defence Staff is meant to be a single-point military advisor to the government on important defense and strategic issues for the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.
  • On long-term it provides for defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all, “jointsmanship” in operations.
  • In most democracies, the CDS is seen as being above inter-Service rivalries and the immediate operational preoccupations of the individual military chief.
  • India being a nuclear weapons state, the CDS will also act as the military advisor to the Prime Minister on nuclear issues.
  • It is not clear yet how long the tenure of the CDS will be and whether the rank of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will be the same or higher than the three army chiefs.
  • Worth to mention here that all major countries, especially the nuclear weapon states, have a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

The history behind Chief Defence Service in India

It is not the first time that creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is in progress. The proposal for setting up a Chief of Defence Staff has been contemplated around 20 years ago after the Kargil war of 1999 by the K. Subrahmanyam committee. But in the absence of political consensus and apprehensions among services it never moved forward.

What is the current status?

As of now the senior-most of the three Chiefs functions as the Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). The role of COSC is additional and the tenures have been very short.

Why change it now?

  • CoSC arrangement is seen as unsatisfactory”, and its Chairman as a “figurehead”.
  • The post did not further tri-service integration, resulting in inefficiency and an expensive duplication of assets.
  • The CoSC system is a leftover from the colonial era, with only minor changes being carried out over the years.
  • Apprehensions in the political class about a powerful military leader, along with inter-Services bickering, have long worked to disincentivise the upgrade of the post.

Naresh Chandra Committee recommendations

  • In 2011, more than a decade after the KRC Report, the UPA government which had opposed the CDS proposal when in opposition, set up the Naresh Chandra Committee on defence and security.
  • The 14-member Committee, comprising retired Service Chiefs and other defence experts, suggested a watered-down version of the CDS proposal, in which the Chairman CoSC in the rank of a four-star officer would have a fixed tenure of two years.

Way Forward

  • Navy played a silent role while the Army and Air Force collaborated to evict intruders from Indian soil.
  • The lessons learnt then prompted the K. Subrahmanyam Committee to propose having a CDS for the first time.
  • But the threat matrix has changed since 1947 and the Indian Ocean region is fast metamorphosing into a major arena of friction, with increasing forays by the Chinese Navy and building up of regional navies with help from China.
  • In a conflict situation, what would unfold are short and swift skirmishes which call for agility and swift action by the three services in unison.

Source: The Hindu


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