Chief of Defence Staff (CDS): India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The Chiefs of Defence Staff
Gen Bipin Rawat: 31 Dec 2019
The government declared that Gen Bipin Rawat will take over as the country’s first ever chief of defence staff (CDS), or triservice chief, an announcement that came barely a few hours before he completes his three-year-tenure as Army chief on December 31.
The government said Gen Rawat, who turns 62 in March next year, will take over as CDS “with effect from Tuesday until further orders and extension in service”, without specifying how long his tenure will be. As per the latest amended military rules, a CDS can serve till the age of 65, while the three service chiefs will continue to have a tenure till age 62, or for three years, whichever is earlier.
Sources said the government believes Gen Rawat — who will be the country’s fourth four-star general after the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs — fits the bill for the new CDS post because “he can push the boundaries to drive the desperately needed integration among the three services”.
Rawat will also advise PM-led nuclear command authority
Gen Bipin Rawat was not a status quoist as the Army chief. He pushed issues ranging from slashing non-operational flab to the proposed setting up of integrated battle groups for greater combat capability. As the CDS, permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, and head of the new department of military affairs in the defence ministry, he will need to push the three services even more to truly integrate in planning, procurements, logistics, doctrines and training, to begin with,” said a source.
Gen Rawat, who was appointed Army chief by the NDA government after superseding two lieutenant generals in December 2016, will then have to work towards establishing tri-service commands to handle the critical new warfare domains of space and cyberspace as well as theatre commands. “The government wants the first new theatre command to come up in four to five years,” said the source.
A senior official added, “The charter for the CDS, as approved by the Cabinet on December 24, is quite vast. If implemented properly, it can lead to genuine integration and synergy among the three services, which often have bitter turf wars and fight for a bigger share of the limited budget. There will be teething problems and institutional/ bureaucratic resistance.”
Another major problem will be that though the CDS will decide the inter-service prioritisation of arms procurements “based on the anticipated budget” and bring about reforms to augment combat capabilities, the actual capital acquisitions and the purse-strings will still be controlled by the defence secretary. The CDS will also provide “single-point military advice” to the government as well as function as the military adviser to the PM-led Nuclear Command Authority.
Anil Chauhan, 2022-
New Delhi : The government appointed Lt-Gen Anil Chauhan, a known China expert who retired as the Eastern Command chief in May last year, as the country’s next chief of defence staff (CDS).
Chauhan (61), currently the military adviser to national security adviser Ajit Doval and the National Security Council Secretariat, will have to spearhead the process to build an integrated war machinery within budgetary constraints through the creation of theatre commands and other structures.
The critically needed reforms have largely stalled since India’s first CDS Gen Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu on December 8 last year.
With the groundwork done by Rawat, a major task for Chauhan will be the creationof four new unified commands: the integrated maritime theatre command, air defence command and two land-based commands for Pakistan and China.
WAS DGMO DURING BALAKOT AIR STRIKE
➤ Gen Anil Chauhan, 61, retired as Eastern Command chief in 2021 after a career spanning 40 yrs
➤ Was ‘the most suitable candidate’ for post of CDS, several ofﬁcers say
➤ NDA and IMA alumni. First retired 3-star ofﬁcer in India to return to active service as a 4-star ofﬁcer
➤ Commissioned in 11 Gorkha Riﬂes in 1981. Was DGMO during the 2019 Balakot air strike
A brief backgrounder
As in 2019 Dec
India’s firstever chief of defence staff or tri-service chief will provide “single-point military advice” to the government, inject synergy in planning, procurements and logistics in the armed forces apart from ensuring integration of land-air-sea operations through the eventual setting up of theatre commands.
The CDS, a four-star general with the same pay and perks as the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs — the three will retain full operational control over their forces — will be the “first among equals” as permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee and head of a new department of military affairs in the defence ministry. General Bipin Rawat is the frontrunner for the post.
The Union Cabinet’s approval of the post of CDS and its charter on Tuesday is a landmark reform, hanging fire since the Kargil conflict till Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision this August 15.
CDS may help prepare forces for wars of future
The CDS will function as military adviser to the PM-led Nuclear Command Authority and have direct command of tri-service organisations to handle new warfare domains of space and cyberspace.
The charter of the CDS, if implemented properly, will prepare the 15-lakh strong armed forces for wars of the future. The CDS is mandated to ensure that the Army, Navy and IAF, which often pull in different directions, truly integrate to slash wasteful expenditure amidst the severe fund crunch for military modernisation because of ballooning pay and pension bills.
The armed forces have projected an additional requirement of Rs 80,000 crore for modernisation, plugging critical operational gaps, and paying “committed liabilities” at the revised estimates stage in December-January in the ongoing fiscal, as was first reported by TOI.
Over 70 countries like the US, the UK, France and Germany, among others, have a CDS-like post for integration in military planning as well as operations.
As per the Cabinet approval, the Indian CDS will act as the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all tri-Service matters. Crucially, the CDS will also “facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands”.
This is needed because India currently has 17 single-Service commands (Army 7, IAF 7 and Navy 3), while there are only two tri-Service commands in the shape of the Andaman & Nicobar Command and the Strategic Forces Command to handle nuclear weapons.
Theatre commands, where all assets and manpower of the Army, Navy and IAF are placed under one operational commander, are cost-effective, save resources and prepare forces for integrated operations.
The new department of military affairs, with the CDS functioning as its secretary, will include the armed forces and an “appropriate mix of military and civilian officers at every level” in a bid to also bridge the festering civil-military divide. “The CDS will not be eligible to hold any government office after demitting his post,” said an official.
CDS: The post
NEW DELHI: The stage is now set for the government to announce the name of the country’s first-ever chief of defence staff (CDS), with the Army, Navy and IAF Rules being amended to allow the tri-Service chief to serve till the age of 65.
The frontrunner for the CDS post is General Bipin Rawat, who completes his three-year term as the Army chief on December 31, and turns 62 in March next year, as was earlier reported by TOI.
The Army, Navy and IAF chiefs, as per the existing government rules, can only serve up to the age of 62 or for three years, whichever is earlier. As per the new proviso inserted into the Army Rules, the Union government “may, if considered necessary in public interest, give extension of service to the CDS for such period or periods as it may deem necessary subject to maximum age of 65 years”. The highest positions in the civilian bureaucracy like the cabinet secretary do not usually go beyond the age of 62, though the government can grant extensions, like it did for the previous cabinet secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha.
The amendment in the Army Rules comes after a pre-scheduled ceremony for the ceremonial transfer of the baton of the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) was deferred at the last minute on Friday.
Gen Rawat was supposed to hand over the baton to Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh at the ceremony. The CoSC comprises the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs, with the senior-most of them acting as the “rotational’’ chairman till he retires.
But with the Cabinet approving the CDS post and its charter on December 24, the CDS will now be the “first among equals” as the permanent chairman of the CoSC and head of a new department of military affairs in the defence ministry. He will, however, be a four-star general with the same pay and perks like the three Service chiefs, who will retain full operational control over their forces.
Creation of the post of CDS
The post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), India, and its necessity, 1999-2015
2019, Aug: CDS position sanctioned by govt
PM Narendra Modi’s announcement of the chief of defence staff post in his Independence Day speech on Thursday led to intense speculation in strategic and military circles, with the majority view being that Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat will be the frontrunner for the job.
Sources said an “implementation committee” will work out the modalities and the role of the CDS by November. IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa will retire on September 30. Gen Rawat’s tenure is till December 31.
The three services, which have to truly integrate to face the challenges of technology-driven futuristic wars, will get effective leadership at the highest level with the CDS post, the PM said in his speech. In effect, the CDS will rank higher than the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs, even if he is a four-star general like them, and eventually pave the way for unified theatre commands instead of the present single-service ones, sources said.
Sources said the CDS will handle all tri-service issues and push for “greater jointness” among the Army, Navy and IAF, which often pull in different directions without any inter-service prioritisation, to systematically build the country’s military capabilities within budgetary constraints.
“Though a four-star general like the three chiefs, the CDS will be ‘first among equals’ in the hierarchy. But the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs will have operational command of their forces. A five-star CDS is not envisaged as of now but let us see how the exact structures pan out,” the source said. A prominent section of the defence establishment believes that India needs a five-star CDS — with overall operational control as well — to crack the whip in the rank-conscious environs of the over-15-lakh-strong armed forces.
But others contend that an all-powerful “general no. 1” is unlikely given the long-standing politico-bureaucratic concern over such a post, with some sections in the past even erroneously stressing that it could set the stage for a possible military coup.
Successive governments have used the ruse of the “need to consult various political parties” to keep the CDS post in cold storage ever since it was strongly recommended by both the Kargil Review Committee in 1999 as well as the L K Advani-led group of ministers’ report in 2001.
The intense rivalry and turf wars among the Army, Navy and IAF also put paid to all such plans. In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Taskforce pitched for a permanent chairman of the chief of staff committee (PC-CoSC) — a diluted version of the CDS — with a fixed two-year tenure. The CoSC currently comprises the three service chiefs, with the most senior among them acting as its ex-officio chairman till he retires.
Integrated theatre commands
2018: Government amends rules
Amends Rules To Bring Three Forces Under Single Leadership
India has finally taken the first step towards eventually having integrated theatre commands, where all the manpower and assets of the Army, Navy and IAF are under the operational control of a single three-star general, by amending command and control rules for joint organisations and establishments.
Sources said the government has notified new “statutory rules and orders” to ensure an officer from any one service can now “exercise direct command” over personnel from the other two services, who are all governed by different acts and rules, in tri-service organisations.
The move has been implemented especially for the strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), which was established as India’s first theatre command in October 2001 but has largely failed to achieve its potential due to internecine turf wars among the three services, general politico-bureaucratic apathy, fund crunches and environmental concerns.
“It might seem a minor structural reform but represents a huge cultural, fundamental shift in the Indian military system, where the three services often pull in different directions. If the country is to have a chief of defence staff (CDS) and theatre commands in the years ahead, this tweaking of the Army, Navy and IAF rules is the first step towards it,” said a top source.
The naval commander-inchief of the ANC can now directly control and discipline Army and IAF officers and other personnel under him, even as similar moves are afoot to eventually bring all land and assets under him in the archipelago. “It will serve as the template for theatre commands in the future. Moreover, we need a fully unified approach in ANC due to the expanding Chinese threat in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR),” he added.
The NDA government had initially shown some drive for meaningful reforms in the country’s higher defence establishment in the shape of creating a CDS post and theatre commands to ensure much-needed synergy in training, logistics, planning, procurements and operations among the 1.5-million strong armed forces.
There was, for instance, even a proposal to create integrated theatre commands in the shape of one or two (one each for west and east of Nepal) for the northern border with China, a western command for Pakistan, a counterinsurgency operations command and one or two peninsular commands for the maritime borders.
But nothing concrete has come out of it. The armed forces currently have 17 single-service commands, with only two unified commands in ANC and the Strategic Forces Command to handle the country’s nuclear arsenal.
China, meanwhile, has reorganised its 2.3-million People’s Liberation Army into five theatre commands to crank up its offensive capabilities as well as establish better command-and-control structures. Its western theatre command now handles the entire Line of Actual Control with India instead of the earlier Chengdu Military Region in the east and the Lanzhou Military Region towards the north.
New Delhi : Serving or retired three-star military officers, apart from the present Army, IAF and Navy chiefs who are four-star Generals, will now also be considered for the chief of defence staff (CDS) post, which has been lying vacant since Gen Bipin Rawat’s untimely death in a helicopter crash on December 8, 2021. The government has tweaked the Army, IAF and Navy rules to widen the “pool of selection” for the country’s top military post to include even retired Lieutenant Generals, Air Marshals and Vice Admirals, provided they are under 62 years. With the June 6 amendments to the service rules specifying the age cutoff at 62, recently retired military chiefs like Gen M M Naravane, Admiral K B Singh and Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria will not be eligible for the CDS post. The three chiefs serve till the age of 62 or for three years, whichever is earlier, while the CDS can go up to 65.
The amendments are an indicator that the government is moving ahead to appoint the next CDS after an inexplicable delay of six months. Gen Rawat’s death has slowed down the entire process to build an integrated war-fighting machinery within budgetary constraints through the creation of theatre commands.
Eligibility rules for CDS, 2022
Serving or retired Lt Gen, Air Marshal and Vice Admiral under the age of 62 years will be eligible for appointment
Recently retired military chiefs like Gen M M Naravane, Admiral K B Singh and Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria won’t be eligible The 3 current chiefs — Gen Manoj Pande, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari and Admiral R Hari Kumar — will be among top contenders
3-star ofﬁcers who’ve commanded or are commanding 17 single-service commands, 2 uniﬁed commands and the 3 vice chiefs are also in zone of consideration
A crucial task for new CDS will be creation of 4 new uniﬁed commands: integrated maritime theatre command, air defence command and 2 land-based commands for Pak and China
Regions from which CDSs have been drawn
DEHRADUN: Two remote Uttarakhand villages, just 90 km apart, in Pauri Garhwal district have given the country back-to-back Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS), the highest-ranking officer on active duty in India's military.
Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (retd) is from Gawana village in the picturesque Khirsu block, not too far from late Gen Bipin Rawat's Saina village, situated in the Dwarikhal block of the district.
Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash in December last year while holding office, and Chauhan belong to the same regiment, 11 Gorkha Rifles. And both were considered experts on Chinese affairs. "Two uniformed officers, who are not only from the same state but also from the same district have served in the same regiment and become the top military official of the country. This is a matter of pride for all of Uttarakhand," said Col Ajay Kothiyal (retd).
Drawing similarities between Rawat and Chauhan, former CM Trivendra Singh Rawat said, "It is a coincidence that both are not only from the same state but from the same regiment, 11 Gorkha. Quite extraordinary."
Feast in village to celebrate Chauhan's appointment as CDS
Uttarakhand is celebrating the appointment of Lt Gen Anil Chauhan as the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), and the fact that Chauhan and his predecessor, Gen Bipin Rawat, not only hail from the hill state but also come from the same district, Pauri Garhwal.
Chauhan was appointed on Wednesday as India's new CDS, more than nine months after the post fell vacant following the death of Rawat in a tragic helicopter crash.
Since his superannuation from the Indian Army in May 2021, Chauhan was working as a defence advisor to the National Security Council Secretariat, which functions under the national security advisor (NSA). Coincidentally, NSA Ajit Doval also hails from Pauri Garhwal, a village called Ghiri Banelsyun.
Soon after Chauhan's name for the top defence service post was announced, celebrations erupted in his village where his relatives still live. A feast was organised by his cousins and relatives. The newly appointed CDS also has a home in the Vasant Vihar area of Dehradun, where his 94-year-old father stays.
Gen Bipin Rawat in 2018, when he was the Army chief, visited his native village with his wife. He had planned to build a house there after his retirement.
The CDS, apart from being the head of the department of military affairs, also acts as the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
2021: IAF snubbed
The bitter festering turf war within the armed forces over the creation of four new integrated theatre commands erupted in public on Friday, with chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat firmly rejecting concerns of the Indian Air Force and dubbing it “a supporting arm” in war-fighting akin to artillery or engineers in the Army.
The country’s seniormost military officer said the maritime theatre command (MTC), air defence command (ADC) and two land-based theatre commands for Pakistan and China already have government sanction and would be created in a time-bound manner whether the air force likes it or not.
IAF’s charter is to provide air support: CDS
Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, speaking at the same webinar, in turn, stressed the air force’s primacy in shaping the battlefield. IAF is not against integrated theatre commands but the country “must get it right” because this “most important defence reform” would have a decisive impact on war-fighting in the future, he said.
The CDS-led defence establishment plans to “raise and operationalise” the four new commands — each of which will place all the assets and manpower of the Army, Navy and IAF under a single operational commander — over a two-year period by August 15, 2023, as was first reported by TOI.
The Army’s existing Udhampur-based northern Command, which looks after counter-terrorism operations in Jammu & Kashmir as well as the fronts with China in Ladakh and Kargil with Pakistan, will however continue as a single-service command because of its unique role. “We do not want to disrupt its existing organisational structure for the time being,” said Gen Rawat.
At present, India has as many as 17 single-service commands (Army 7, IAF 7 and Navy 3), which have little synergy in planning and operations. With unified tri-Service commands, the government wants to build an integrated land-sea-air warfighting machinery in a more cost-effective manner.
But IAF contends it would be operationally unwise to divide its “limited air assets” like just 30 fighter squadrons, six mid-air refuellers, three AWACS, two AEW&C aircraft and the like among different theatre commands. Gen Rawat, however, flatly dismissed these concerns. “Even today, IAF assets are divided among its five operational commands (apart from the maintenance and training commands),” he said, adding that “resources” will be re-allocated from one theatre to another as and when a contingency is faced, as is the case even now.
“The air force will always remain a supporting arm, just like artillery and engineers support the combatant arms in the Army. It will look after the entire airspace of the country under the ADC. Its charter is also to provide ‘close air support’ to the land forces and ‘offensive air support’ during operations. This is the basic charter for them (IAF) to understand,” said the CDS.
The creation of the theatre commands has “already been spelt out” by the Union Cabinet, which has tasked the CDS (he took over on January 1, 2020) to usher in “jointness and integration” in the armed forces within a specified timeframe. “So, we are actually working backwards. Half the time is over and now is the time to move forward,” said Gen Rawat.
As in 2019
In Dec 2019, the government said Gen Rawat will take over as CDS “with effect until further orders and extension in service”, without specifying how long his tenure will be. As per the latest amended military rules, a CDS can serve till the age of 65.
Uniform and insignia
As Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat will be donning a new role and also a different uniform. While the colour will remain olive green there are significant changes in his uniform to represent all three forces.
On the shoulder will be a maroon patch with golden ranks to represent all three services. "The colour of the uniform of the CDS will be same as the parent service but ranks and badges will be different," said a source.
The cap of the CDS will also be different with badges and accomplishments to represent the three services.
There will be no sword and baton or stars on the shoulder to signify the ranks. The CDS uniform will also not have a lanyard as the idea is to have service neutral representations.
"The idea is that the uniform of the CDS has symbols to represent all three services. Any service or regimental symbols will not be there," said a source privy to the details.
The four stars on the collar that chiefs have will also be missing in the uniform of the CDS as it represents a particular service. The service ribbons on the chest will remain as it is.
What is not clear is whether the office of the CDS will have to fly a flag representing all three services. All three services chiefs fly their service flag at their offices.
General Bipin Rawat will reside at 3, Kamraj Marg in New Delhi. The CDS will be the fifth secretary in MoD. The existing ones head are Department of Defence, Department of Defence Production, Department of Defence Research and Development and Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare.
According to the notification, the mandate of the DMA includes promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing for the services through joint planning and integration of their requirements; facilitation of restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands and promoting use of indigenous equipment by the services.