Is India soon going to have its first ever Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) ?

If the recent report in The Livemint is to be believed, India is all set to get its first ever Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) who will be the seniormost staff of the defense forces. If appointed, all the three chiefs – Army, Navy and Air Force, will be under the Chief of Defense Staff. The CDS was first proposed after the 1999 Kargil war. As per the proposal in 1999, CDS will function as the single point of reference for the defense minister in all the matters of warfare and nuclear issues, unlike the current system where all the three chiefs are consulted.

As per The Livemint, Lt Gen. Praveen Bakshi who is the senior-most army officer in terms of service may soon be appointed as the country’s first chief of defence staff (CDS) in the next few days. Lt. Gen Bakshi was superseded when the central government named Lt Gen. Bipin Rawat as the next army chief a couple of days back. Opposition had raised questions over the superseding of Lt. Gen Bakshi to appoint Lt. Gen Bipin Rawat as the Chief of Army staff.

“Lt Gen. Bakshi was not appointed as the new army chief because he will likely be appointed as the next joint chief of staff of the defence forces. The CDS has to be from the army and the senior-most person in service, by rotation,” a member of the National Security Council, which is tasked with advising the prime minister’s office on matters of national security and strategic interests, said on condition of anonymity. Defence experts said that once the Cabinet Committee on Security approves the appointment, Bakshi will take over as CDS—possibly within the next 10 days.

“The appointment of CDS is separate from the appointment of the service chiefs. It has to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security. Bakshi is still the senior most in the Army and his appointment may be cleared within the next 10 days, before Gen. Dalbir Singh retires on 31 December,” said Brig. (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal, an expert with the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA). Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has reportedly been in favour of appointing a CDS, who will be a single-point military adviser to the government on matters of military and nuclear issues, although the navy and the air force were said to be in disagreement on the matter.

(You can read the complete report from The Livemint by clicking here )

Kshitij Mohan