From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing much
Mains level : Chief of Defence staff - analysis
Prime Minister announced appointing a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). This could have a far-reaching impact on the management of defence in India.
- Long-awaited move – The issue of efficient management of higher defence organisation came into focus after the Kargil war in 1999 when K. Subrahmanyam task force highlighted the systemic issues affecting our national security structures; such as poor coordination and technological inadequacies.
- Group of Ministers (GoM) in the early 2000s reviewed national security management. Though many of their recommendations were implemented, Defence management recommendations were not implemented.
- Decision making process – Armed forces are not formally involved in decision-making on defence planning and strategy. Service Headquarters are not within the Ministry of Defence; they are treated more like attached offices.
- New age military conflicts –The concept of military conflict extends beyond land, air and sea, into the space, cyber, electronic and information. Effective defence preparedness requires a ‘jointness’ of these forces. It also requires a prioritisation of the weapons requirement and optimisation of their resource allocations.
- GOM Recommendations –
- Integrating the armed forces headquarters into the Ministry of Defence (MoD)
- Appointment of a CDS
- CDS was to administer tri-service institutions such as the Andaman and Nicobar Command
- Strategic advice – CDS would provide coordinated military advice to the Defence Minister. He would develop the national defence strategy from a national security strategy
- Established institution – Many democracies have the institution of a CDS or its equivalent, with varying degrees of operational control over their armed forces.
- Accountability – It arises from the greater participation of the military in defence decision-making alongside the civilian bureaucracy
- Defence acquisition – The CDS can contribute to rational defence acquisition decisions by preventing redundancy of capacities among the services and making best use of available financial resources.
Challenges posed by CDS
- Authority of service chiefs – there is an apprehension that a CDS would undermine the authority of the three service chiefs over their forces. The establishment of theatre commands under the CDS in many countries reinforced this fear.
- An all-powerful CDS would distort the civil-military balance in our democracy.
Role of CDS
- Developing multi-domain military strategies
- Strengthening tri-service synergies
- Enabling perspective planning
- India should pursue the objective of indigenisation. India is still among the top arms importers.
- There must be procedures to ensure that every acquisition is structured in a way as to strengthen our indigenous technological capacities.
- Eventually, the three Service headquarters would need to be suitably integrated into the Ministry of Defence.