Chief of Defence Staff: In a major policy decision that will completely overhaul the management military affairs in the country, a meeting of the Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi Monday approved the creation of post of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The post will be in the rank of a four star general with the salary and perquisites equal to a service chief. The officer will be the first among equals – the three services chiefs of Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy and will act as the top military advisor to the Government of India in military affairs. The Chief of Defence Staff will also head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), to be created within the Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary, said the government.
The Chief of Defence Staff, apart from being the head of the Department of Military Affairs, will also be the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
The officer will act as the Principal Military Adviser to Defence Minister on all tri-Services matters. The three Chiefs will continue to advise the government about the matters exclusively concerning their respective Services.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will not exercise any military command, including over the three Service Chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.
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Chief of Defence Staff: An old demand fulfilled
In August this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the government’s resolve to create the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in his Independence Day speech.
“India should not have a fragmented approach. Our entire military power will have to work in unison and move forward. All the three (Services) should move simultaneously at the same pace,” PM Modi had said in August this year.
Defence planners have long advocated creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff that will act as a single point of advice to the government on all the matters related to national security and defence.
However, it was a sensitive issue in the country as the political class of the country was apprehensive about the concentration of too much power in a single military office believing that it may not be good for the control of civilian government over the country’s military. However, Prime Minister Modi decided to implement the decision in the second term of his government.
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“There should be good coordination and it should be relevant to the hope and aspirations of our people. It should be in line with the changing war and security environment with the world,” PM Modi had said in his speech on August 15, 2019 from the ramparts of the iconic Red Fort in Delhi.
“After formation of this post (CDS), all the three forces will get effective leadership at the top level,” he had said.
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