More of the Same

Now India has a Chief of Defence Staff and it’s the same army general who was always prominent with his askew hat. He now represents all the three armed
services – and is the one who helped Modi make India the bully of the neighbourhood.

By Vice Admiral (R) Taj M Khattak | February 2020


The idea of creating the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in India was one of the recommendations made by the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) headed by eminent strategic thinker K Subrahmanyam in 1999, and later endorsed by a Group of Ministers (GoM) led by L K Advani. It was clearly an acknowledgment that India lacked a single agency which could link all elements of the nation-state with military strategy and military strategy with operational art.

During the next two years, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (CISC) to Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee was appointed in India and Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) was established by amalgamating Director General Defence Planning Staff (DG DPS) and Joint Secretary Military Wing, (JS (Mil) in IDS. In addition, the Andaman and Nicobar Commands and Strategic Forces Commands were raised but that is as far as KRC recommendations progressed. No further progress could take place as successive governments wanted a consensus amongst all political parties.

Buoyed by the electoral majority of the BJP in the 2019 elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced creation of the post of CDS during his Independence Day speech in August 2019 and it was hailed as a major reform in the Defence Department.

The name of retiring Indian General Bipin Rawat has been announced as the first CDS (Chief of Defence Staff) to head the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the Indian Defence Ministry. The need for a CDS was felt in India on the lines of other major powers like the US and UK to provide strategic direction and formulate strategic art along with other components of national power. He is also expected to bring synergy to the three services at the highest echelon and optimize resource utilization.

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The writer is a retired Vice Admiral of the Pakistan Navy. Email: tajkahttak@ymail.com

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