The missing CDS

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News: Recently, the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India died in a helicopter crash. The second CDS of India has not been appointed so far.

The Indian military continues to remain headless and directionless with no successor to Rawat.  

Importance of the CDS 

The elevation of the tri-service chief is expected to improve interservice coordination, cooperation and operational integration.  

The CDS was responsible for creating the structures of the geographical integrated theatre commands, enabling cohesive and effective operations.  

History of Tri-Service Command in India 

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) or apex structure of tri-service command was first proposed by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999.  

Thereafter, a tri-service commander was also recommended in the report furnished by a Group of Ministers (GOM). The Naresh Chandra Committee also recommended for a “permanent chairman, chiefs of staff”. 

PM Modi desired for the jointness of the tri-services. On this line, the Combined Commander’s Conference (CCC) organized in 2017 opened up discussions about tri-service jointness and theaterisation. After the conference, the three service chiefs were directed to talk amongst themselves and present six actionable points towards jointness within one month. 

In 2019, the prime minister created the post of the CDS who was also supposed to be head of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS of India. 

What are the reasons for non-appointment of the 2nd CDS? 

Unlike the post of the army chief which is an operational post that cannot be kept empty, the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is not an operational appointment.   

Where is theaterisation going 

It has been proposed that a Pakistan Land Theatre with an air force commander; a China Land Theatre with an army commander; a Maritime Theatre with a navy commander; a Northern Command to deal with the insurgency-roiled areas of Kashmir; and an Air Defence Theatre command should be created. 

Way Forward 

The PM should make efforts to resolve the infighting of the three chiefs. The three chiefs should take the ownership of the CDS project. Each one of them should be given a theatre, and they should be given a four-star appointment 

Source: The post is based on an article “The Missing CDS” published in the Business Standard on 06th May 2022. 

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