Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc.

[op-ed of the day] There is a design flaw with this military post


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The post of CDS and its responsibilities.

Mains level : Paper 3-Security forces and their mandates.


Recently Chief of Defence Staff post was created by the Government. The utility of this post and the problem it could create are debated.

History leading to the post

  • First World War brought to the fore the command and control dilemmas of concurrent conflicts.
  • During the colonial years of Great Britain, an issue that received consideration was the British higher command and control structures.
  • With the declaration of the Second World War, the responsibility of higher command fell on War Cabinet serviced by the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
  • Winston Churchill as prime minister given the supreme power but remained responsible to the parliament.
  • After the U.S. entered the war, a unified command required a single commander.
  • After the war ended and the Cold War started, Eisenhower became the supreme commander of NATO.
  • While political powers were vested in the NATO council.
  • Despite the experience of the World Wars the U.S. has not created CDS.
  • In the U.S., the military chain of command runs directly from theatre commanders to civilian secretaries to the President.
  • Britain, however, created the post of the Chief of Defence Staff.

The outline for India

  • The three-tier defense management structure was adopted by Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Cabinet Committee on security has served India for well over the years.

Role of CDS

  • Department of Military Affairs, headed by CDS will deal with the Army, Navy and Air force and The Territorial Army.
  • Works related to procurement related exclusively to the services except for capital acquisition.
  • He will also act as a Principal Military Advisor to the Defence Minister.
  • CDS will not exercise any military command, including the three Service Chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.

A subordination

  • There would be an implied subordination of the three service chiefs to the CDS notwithstanding any declaration to the contrary.
  • CDS is tasked with facilitating the restructuring of military commands.
  • Bringing about jointness in operations including through the establishment of joint/ theatre command.
  • This could encroach upon the domain of the service chiefs.
  • The CDS would outrank the three service chiefs even though all are four-star.
  • CDS could override the Service Chiefs on critical tactical and perhaps even strategic issues.


  • The Department of Military Affairs would exercise control over the three services and also most problematic is the erosion of the civilian supremacy which could result with the creation of the post.

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