Appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

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    Context

    • The Government of India has appointed Lt General Anil Chauhan (Retired) as the next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)
      • He will also function as a Secretary to the Department of Military Affairs. 

    Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

    • Genesis: The CDS was created in 2019 for a dual role, as the most senior uniformed officer in rank (First among equals) and as a Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs.
    • Roles: To act as the primary military advisor to the government.
      • To create jointness among the armed forces.
      • To facilitate creation of integrated theater commands.
      • To help in prioritizing capital acquisition for the modernisation of the forces.

    Work done by CDS since its inception

    • Last CDS had directed the commissioned officers at the level of General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in each of the services, to report on the possible structure of integrated theater commands.
    • Theater Commands: As per the submitted reports, four to five integrated theater commands have been envisioned:
    • One for air defense.
    • One maritime defense.
    • Two land-based theater commands for the western border (Pakistan) and northern border (China).
      • Or an additional integrated command including the area under the Northern Army Command presently at the borders with Pakistan and China in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh.
    • Collective strength: As per the requirement, the integrated commands will be able to utilize resources from all the three services available under them. 
      • The operational control of all resources will be with the Theatre Commander, which will report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee headed by the CDS.

    Widened CDS Selection Pool

    The government in a recent notification has amended the service rules of the armed forces, related to the eligibility for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

    Amendments to service rules:

    • Vacancy: Since India’s first CDS General Bipin Rawat had died, the post has been vacant.  The government amended the service rules of the armed forces to fill the vacancy.
    • Intent of the amendment: To make all serving and recently retired three-star and four-star officers from the three services who are under the age of 62 eligible for the post of CDS.
    • Three-star officers: Lt General, Air Marshal and Vice Admiral.
    • Four-star officers: The CDS, the chiefs of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.
    • Amended Rules & regulations: To enable the three star officer’s appointment to the post of CDS, the government has amended the Army Rules, 1954; the Naval Ceremonial, Conditions of Service and Miscellaneous Regulations, 1963; and the Air Force Regulations, 1964.
    • Service Extension: The government also has notified possible extension of the service of the CDS if deemed necessary subject to a maximum age of 65 years.

    Critical Analysis of the amended rules

    • Benefits (Wider Pool): The amendments to the service rules for the Army, Navy and Air Force will make the potential candidates on a level playing field with the serving officers.
    • Issues (Seniority vs. Merit): As a convention, usually the most senior officer of the service is appointed as a service chief.  Thus, the appointment of a serving or a retired three-star officer over the serving four-star officers might create issues.

    Way Forward

    • Last CDS General Rawat had planned the reorganization of the armed forces into integrated theater commands along with other measures to bring synergy and efficiency in operations.
    • It will be the responsibility of the new CDS to build consensus over the reorganization plan by catering to objections from the Air Force and addressing other grievances.
    • It will help in India’s defense preparedness and modernization, promote the image as a net security provider in the South Asian region and prevent aggression on borders (LAC and LOC).

    Source: TH