Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is the professional service chief, head of the Indian Armed Forces and the senior-most uniformed military adviser to the Government of India. General Bipin Rawat will serve as the first CDS till December 2022.

How the post was created?

The position was first officially suggested in 1999 following the Kargil War through the recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee. Although a long-talked-about position in India, the official call was made public by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2019 at Red Fort, New Delhi.

On 24 December 2019, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) formally announced the creation of the position, a four-star general, a tri-service Chief, that shall lead the defence forces as well as take up other roles such as head of the Department of Military Affairs under the Ministry of Defence.

Description of the post

The CDS is a four-star officer selected from among the serving officers of the Indian Armed Forces. While being “first among equals” among the service chiefs, the CDS would be a single-point military advisor. The CDS will not hold any military command. The holder of the post of Chief of Defence Staff would also be the head of all tri-service command structures, assisted by a deputy, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff to replace the post of Chief of Integrated Defence Staff.

The CDS would head a newly-created Department of Military Affairs (DMA), under the Ministry of Defence and will function as its Secretary. Apart from heading the DMA, the CDS will also be the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (PC-CoSC). He will also be the Principal Adviser to the Minister of Defence.

As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, CDS will perform the following functions:

  • The Chief of Defence Staff is described by officials as the “first among equals” among service chiefs.
  • The CDS will be tasked with trimming weapons procurement procedures and integrating operations of the Indian armed forces- Army, Air Force and Navy.
  • Apart from being the military advisor for the government, the CDS will also head the Department of Military Affairs.
  • The CDS will have the authority to direct the service chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force and will also have the authority to create theatre commands as and when needed.
  • Command tri-service agencies/organisations/commands including those related to cyber and space.
  • CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by the Minister of Defence and Defence Planning Committee chaired by the National Security Advisor.
  • Function as the Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority.
  • Bring about jointness and ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure in the three Services.
  • Implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP), and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow up of Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP).
  • Bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services aimed at augmenting combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure.
  • Assign inter-Services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals.

The CDS’s salary and perquisites will be same as the Service Chiefs. The CDS will come under the Right to Information Act.

Source: Wikipedia

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; Polity & Governance