Come December and India would witness one of the biggest military reforms. The bold announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 regarding the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will take shape in December.

The Ajit Doval led high powered committee has submitted its report to the government. This has paved the way for the appointment of the CDS. The high-powered panel led by the National Security Advisor was tasked with the job of framing the terms of reference, the tenure of the CDS and also deciding on whether the CDS should be a five or four star ranked general.

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Sources privy to the developments tell MyNation that the announcement would take place in December and it has also been decided that the CDS would be a four-star general and a single point advisor on matters pertaining to the military.

A much-needed military reform:

The CDS would make a huge difference in several ways to the Indian military. There are several areas which have not been examined closely. They include procurement, military diplomacy and planning. The CDS being a single point advisor would make a huge difference in all these key areas.

In all there have been 13 five-year defence plans starting from 1962, post the China war. The major problem that was noticed is that these plans fell short due to lack of prioritisation. One of the key problems noticed was that there was duplication and the lack of an institution to take care of India’s military needs.

Several such issues would be taken care of with the appointment of a CDS. He would integrate the operations of the three forces and also play a key role in advising the government on key defence and strategic issues. The advise given by the CDS would be binding on the three service chiefs.

Another glaring problem that was found was relating to the procurement. There are two stages of procurement which are the qualitative requirements and the conducting of trials. It was noticed that there were inordinate delays. There were also issues with regard to expertise or professionalism. IT has been pointed out several times in the past that there is a need for greater professionalism in these two areas.

The CDS would bring about a major change in these areas as he would be the over all in charge. With a dedicated team under the CDS, these processes would be overseen by professionals and this would help in expediting the procurement process.

While the Army, Navy and Air Force would continue to have operational commands of their own, the CDS would play a key role when it comes to coordination. The coordination would particularly come in handy when it comes to budgeting, procurements, logistics and also training.


India has made huge strides in terms of its military capabilities. In this context military diplomacy becomes extremely crucial. Jointmanship is an important military doctrine and the CDS would be crucial to this. This doctrine is about the coordination and integration of strategy capabilities and the execution of the same by the three services.

Experts have pointed out in the past that the three service chiefs are prone to protecting their own turfs. The CDS would play a crucial role in ensuring jointmanship. In other words, the three service chiefs would come together under the CDS for all major decisions as opposed to pay and pension related issues that they would get together in the past.

The government will also have a clear policy on defence diplomacy and the CDS would ensure that this is implemented. Jointmanship and visits of the higher military authorities are some of the issues that come under diplomacy and the CDS would be a central figure to ensure that these processes go on smoothly.

These issues are extremely crucial in the event of a two-front war on the northwest and northeast borders. In such an event there would be a need for pinpointed military application. Take for instance, the case of China, which has divided its Army into theatre commands and military regions.

Further the CDS would also be heading the trip-service structures. This would mean that the existing post of Integrated Defence Staff would be converted into the Vice Chief of Defence Staff.

Overall if one looks at it, it may be said that integration is the key for good military. Currently the defence ministry is in charge of implementation and the service headquarters being out of the decision making does not make it a good delivery model. Several defence experts have said they found it strange that the defence secretary is responsible for the defence in India. Coupled with this fact is the three service chiefs who are anxious to protect their turf.

The CDS would play a major role in integrating the defence operations and planning. It was also noticed during the Kargil war that the Air Force was fighting its own war. It was found that the IAF when called to assist the Army did not have the appropriate weapons and tactics. The CDS would in turn ensure better coordination and bring the entire military under one turf to suit India’s defence needs.

A bold step forward:

The first time the recommendation was made for the post of a CDS was by the K Subrahmanyam Committee that was set up after the Kargil war. There was another committee headed by Naresh Chandra set to suggest reforms in higher defence management. This committee too had suggested the creation of a CDS.

It was said that the CDS would focus on coordination between the three service chiefs in terms of budgeting, logistics and training. However, there was never any political will to take a call on this. The bureaucracy was not in favour of it and it was felt that the CDS would become a Super General, which would not be in the interest of the country. However, the chances of a CDS becoming a Super General are ruled out as the three chiefs would continue to have operational commands of their own.

However, the Prime Minister was advised that for India’s military to become more effective, the forces must integrate under a CDS. The government also took note of the fact that the inter-departmental rivalries with regard to procurement, budgeting, tactics etc would prove fatal to India both during war and peacetime.

Modi made it clear that in today’s changed world and altered landscape of warfare, we cannot afford to think in a fragmented manner. He sent out a clear message that several nations have recognised issues such as operational planning and take measures to rectify the problem. To sum it up, this decision has ensured that India is all set to prioritise its long-term security goals.