Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was on Monday appointed the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff whose mandate will be to bring in convergence in the functioning of the Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force.
General Rawat was named the Chief of Defence Staff just a day before he was to retire from service after completing a full three-year term as the Chief of Army Staff. Gen Rawat will be able to serve as CDS for a period of up to three years after the government amended the rules extending the age of retirement to 65 years.
The Chief of Defence Staff is mandated to set up the first joint command within three years comprising Army, Navy and the Air Force in addition to the two existing ones. A high-level committee set up to examine the gaps in the country’s security system in the wake of the Kargil conflict in 1999 had called for the appointment of a CDS as a single-point military adviser to the defence minister
The CDS is mandated to bring all service commands under one umbrella gradually in a time-bound manner, sources said. The first joint theatre command should be set up in three years and subsequently, within 5-6 years, the office of CDS is mandated to convert all single service commands into joint commands.
This could be one of the biggest challenges for the newly created top military post in the country as there is no consensus and resistance to the idea within the armed forces.
Currently, there are 19 commands and only two out of these are tri-service commands. These are the Andaman and Nicobar Command and Strategic Forces Command that is in charge of nuclear assets. “In a time-bound manner all commands need to come under one umbrella and one of the most important mandates of the CDS will be to achieve this,” said a source.
The CDS will head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) that will be created within the Ministry of Defence. The CDS will serve as the Secretary of this newly conceptualised department that will look at striking more synergy within the armed forces but also integrate the Ministry of Defence and the three forces.
The CDS will have financial powers and the files from his office will not be required to go through the defence secretary and in most cases will be sent directly to the defence minister, sources said.
The department of military affairs headed by the CDS will play a key role in promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the Services through joint planning and integration of their requirements. The office of the CDS will have civil and military officials and will work to ensure the three services can shed their turf wars to bring about true synergy. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).