CDS will give single-point advice to the govt: He will also help the three forces in effectively preparing for war

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken up the recommendations of many experts and announced the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). The move is a huge positive.

 |  3-minute read |   17-08-2019
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The appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was an absolute necessity. Everyone is saying this — starting from the Kargil war days, I have written and said that we need a CDS.

This announcement is actually a great step by the Prime Minister.

A much greater coordination and integration is required between the three services.

This can come about if you have somebody who is overseeing the three services, not so much from the operational part, but in privatisation or budgeting.

At the ground level, the coordination works. I think when you are looking at larger issues of joint doctrines, war fighting procedures, those are times of single point advice to the government and the political leadership — that's where CDS will come in. 

During the Kargil war, there were obviously issues and coordination problems. If you read the Kargil Review Committee, for instance, they have said that inter-services coordination was a bit of an issue. This is why they had crucially recommended a CDS.

indian-army-2-inside_081519031757.jpgMarching in step: The CDS will be responsible for tight coordination between the three armed forces. (Photo: India Today)


The appointment of a CDS won’t have any issues now when it comes to nuclear command and control. I think that command and control will get strengthened now. At the moment, the chairman chief of staff committee heads it. Typically, sometimes you have the chairman of the committee being there for just two or three months — so, by having a permanent senior person at the nuclear command, this will actually get strengthened.

What we need to see is that employment of individual forces should be under the respective service chiefs. The CDS should not get involved in training and operations of individual service because that is the responsibility of the service chiefs. As I said, where he can help will be in integrating procedures in a joint, tri-service war-fighting doctrine. In laying down government polices across the three services and cyber polices — right now, each service has its own policies. Joint training is an area that he will look into.

Budgeting is a major issue — how much money is available for the three services? There is a limited defence budget. Who should get what depending on what priority is something he will look into. Right now, you do have issues where the three services compete with each other for the allocated defence budget. A joint procurement plan is an issue which the CDS will look at. He will be the single point advisor to the political leadership, rather than the three service chiefs giving their respective advice.

The CDS will help the three forces in preparing them for war, in terms of their jointness and integration. He will play a role in future structures which the forces must take. The CDS should not limit his role to merely training the forces.

ians-dhanus-howitzer_081519032037.jpgTime for upgrades: The CDS will help priotise and plan up-to-date defence procurement. (Photo: IANS)

The three service chiefs will be responsible for operational preparedness for their respective services. They will handle training of the forces and administration.

The CDS will streamline the operation readiness by promulgating a doctrine for joint war fighting. Right now, every service comes out with its respective doctrine — how are you going to integrate the three services into war fighting? If there is a dichotomy between the doctrines of the three services, who is the one who is going to streamline it?

So, I think the CDS will bring in a far more effective war fighting strategy — he will also be available to suggest to the government more effective war fighting structures. Today, there are some services who say we want integration, others who say we don’t want it, yet others say that there should be integrated command.

The CDS will resolve these differences between the three services.

(As told to: Rohit E David)

Also read: Astrologers, poets and politicians: How key figures saw India's Subh‐e-Azadi dawning on August 15


Lt Gen D S Hooda Lt Gen D S Hooda @ltgenhooda

The writer is former Northern Command army commander.

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