7 PM |CDS and the path to jointmanship| 10th January 2020

Context:The creation of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

More in news:

  • PM Modi announced the creation of India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post last Independence Day from the Red Fort, New Delhi.
  • The outgoing Indian army chief, General Bipin Rawat, assumed the four-star post on December 31, 2019.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS):

  • The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will be the highest-ranked officer of India’s armed forces.
  • CDS will be the single-point military adviser to the central government and will bring synergy in the matters of the tri-services i.e. the Army, Navy and Air force.
  • The Defence Ministry had recently amended the Army, Air Force, and Navy rules by allowing the Chief of Defence Staff to serve up to a maximum age of 65 years.
  • A CDS would be a four-star general belonging to any of the three sectors of the Indian armed forces.
  • The salary will be equal to that of a service chief.
  • The CDS post will be of a fixed term, which is yet to be determined. According to the existing rules, an Army Chief has tenure of three years or up to the retirement age of 62 years, whichever is earlier.
  • CDS will not be eligible to hold any government office after demitting (resigning) as the CDS.


  • Even though the idea of having a CDS was first introduced by Lord Mountbatten, its importance wasn’t realized until we fought Kargil war against Pakistan in 1999. 
  • During the Kargil war, the army had asked for support from the air force but it was initially rejected by the Cabinet Committee on Security. It was only after a few weeks that the air force upped the ante together with the army through their air strikes.
  • As a result, the Kargil Review Committee recommended in 1999 that the then government officially announce the position of CDS in 2001. 
  • After the 2001 recommendations, in preparation for the post of CDS, the government created the Integrated Defence Staff in 2002, which was to eventually serve as the CDS’s Secretariat.
  • In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Committee recommended the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee as a midway to eliminate apprehensions over the CDS.
  • The post of CDS was also recommended by the Lt. General D.B. Shekatkar (retd.) Committee (December 2016).
  • A committee was formed under the chairmanship of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to finalize the modalities and responsibilities of CDS.

Roles of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS):

  • The Chief of Defence Staff is described by officials as the “first among equals” among service chiefs.
  • CDS will head the tri-services and the newly created Department of Military Affairs under the Ministry of Defence.
  • CDS will be the permanent chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee. Thus, he will be able to devote undivided attention to the administration of tri-service organisations and take measures to engender “jointness” amongst three services. 
  • The CDS will serve as the unified military advisor to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense.
  • The CDS would also function as a principal military advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority (chaired by Prime Minister), advising the government on employment of nuclear weapons in case of war.
  • Defence procurement is another area of interest, where he is a member in the Defence Acquisition Council under the chairmanship of the defence minister, and Defence Planning Committee, chaired by the NSA.
  • The CDS will be tasked with trimming weapons procurement procedures and integrating operations of the Indian armed forces- Army, Air Force and Navy.


  • The first and foremost challenge for CDS will be to build confidence among the tri-services to ensure the smooth coordination in their operations and close the communication gaps that exist among the services and between the tri-services and the Ministry of Defence.
  • As the Secretary of Department of Military Affairs (DMA), the CDS is tasked with facilitating the restructuring of military commands, bringing jointness in operations including through establishment of joint/theatre commands. This may invariably encroach upon the domain of the services chiefs.
  • The second most important challenge for him will to be consolidating the national strategy on security. The Ministry of Defence has often claimed that a document for the same exists but the subject has always eluded the public glare.
  • Another major challenge for General Rawat will be to prioritize the budget allocation and acquisition of latest technologies in order to meet the requirements of the tri-services.
  • Another challenge is towards greater investments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the long term. Though as a process it has already begun, but will require a dedicated push from the CDS over the course of his tenure. There are invariable evidence of vigorous pursuit of AI by China’s People’s liberation Army.


The creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is the need of the hour to increase the coordination among all three wings of the Indian army so that the limited resources of the defence can be optimally utilised and good results can be shown during any war-like situation.


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