Preference for Appointment of CDS

After the tragic death of General Bipin Rawat, the appointment of new CDS needs to be looked into.

Photo (

After the untimely and tragic death of former CDS General Bipin Rawat, much attention has been focused on appointing a new Chief of Defense Staff (CDS). Bureaucracy is said to be responsible for preventing and delaying the appointment of new CDS as the appointment of CDS reduces the power of the bureaucracy. According to others the CDS is given the highest rank in the army. Responsibilities on CDS include implementation of tri-service cooperation, enhanced joint manpower, training between services, logistics, setting priorities on acquisitions, etc.

The above list elaborates the importance of CDS hence this appointment has to be on priority. Has the government evaluated countries around the world on the role of CDS? Has an American service like the Joint Chiefs of Staff been evaluated? It is still not clear. The formation of CDS was first announced by the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech in 2019. Since then, it is said that the government has shown indifference towards CDS. In fact CDS has not been included in the legal framework so far. Consequently, one can understand why the government is reluctant to appoint a new CDS after the death of General Rawat. Of course, it would certainly make a difference if the position were protected by law.

The appointment of a new CDS is not legally binding on the Indian government. This has created considerable uncertainty about the role of the CDS and the expectations of the government from the CDS. There are at least two reasons for the inordinate delay in appointment of new CDS. One is that the government expects CDS to have more flexibility. Secondly, the nature of the work of CDS can become problematic for the Indian government.

If it is said that CDS should be moderate towards the government, then there is more possibility of politicisation of the position. As a result the position is more likely to become just designation. CDS sympathisers have also alleged that General Bipin Rawat was more active in politics. 

Secondly, the CDS post is considered a single point contact for advice on the military. This is borne out by his years of military experience and the advice and recommendations of the three army chiefs. The Government may, at its discretion, bypass the CDS and consult directly with the Service Chiefs or Corp Commanders of the Indian Army and their counterparts in the other two services. The Government may, at its discretion, also invite the CDS to participate in discussions with key members of the Cabinet on critical national security and defense issues. However, it is not fair to expect CDS to be involved in all defense activities. This is likely to adversely affect military readiness, operational requirements, staffing issues or service requirements. As a result, the very purpose of setting up CDS may become futile. On the contrary,

The Government may, at its discretion, bypass the CDS and consult directly with the Service Chiefs or Corp Commanders of the Indian Army and their counterparts in the other two services.

The relationship between the government and CDS should be one of mutual dependence. Since the CDS encompasses the full range of functional responsibilities from an advisory role to the Minister of Defense as well as integrated operations to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the government needs to recognize the constraints, pressures and challenges of this position. CDS faces a tough challenge in combating service shrinkage that hinders service collaboration improvement in areas such as training, logistics and operations. CDS should also pay special attention to financial distress services related to Govt. The quality of advice on operational matters and the use of force depends on the capabilities of the CDS. This can have a direct impact on improving the relationship between the CDS and the government.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post