Defence Minister Rajnath Singh: New Chief of Defence Staff to be appointed 'soon'

The post of CDS has been lying vacant since General Bipin Rawat's death in a helicopter crash on December 8 last year

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, June 14, 2022, 02:32 PM IST
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General Bipin Rawat, India's first Chief of Defence Staff, who was killed in a helicopter crash in December last year | PTI

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the appointment of the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will be made soon and that the process for it is underway.

The post of CDS has been lying vacant since General Bipin Rawat's death in a helicopter crash on December 8 last year.

"The appointment of the CDS will be made soon. The process for it is underway," the defence minister said during a media briefing here on the rollout of the "Agnipath" recruitment scheme for the armed forces.

Earlier this month, the government issued notifications, widening the selection pool for the top position.

According to the new rules, any serving or retired lieutenant general, air marshal and vice-admiral under the age of 62 years will be eligible for appointment to the post of CDS.

The three-star officers are now eligible to become the CDS, along with the serving chiefs of the three services, according to the changes made to the Army, Air Force and Navy Acts.

General Rawat took charge as India's first CDS on January 1, 2020 with a mandate to bring convergence in the functioning of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and bolster the country's overall military prowess.

Another key mandate of the CDS was to facilitate the restructuring of the military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through the establishment of theatre commands.

A high-level committee set up to examine the gaps in the country's security system in the wake of the Kargil war in 1999 had recommended the appointment of the CDS as a single-point military adviser to the defence minister.

History of the CDS appointment

The official decision to create the position was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2019 at the Red Fort, in New Delhi.

Following the announcement, a committee was announced on 23 August 2019 under the National Security Advisor, consisting of the Cabinet Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee (C-COSC) among others, to make final the powers of the CDS. The committee was to submit its report within six weeks.

By November 2019, the committee had largely completed its tasks. On 24 December, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) formally established the post of Chief of Defence Staff.

Role of the CDS

At the time of creation of the post in December 2019, and as the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the CDS would implement integration and jointness of the three services, assign inter-services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals, command the tri-service agencies, head the Department of Military Affairs and be a member of overall defence planning among other responsibilities.

Among the first reforms proposed by the firsts CDS was the creation of an Air Defence Command.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDS emphasised the need to minimise costly defence imports, give a chance to domestic production even with only 70% of the general staff qualitative requirements, and not 'misrepresent operational requirements'.

In February 2020, the CDS announced the creation of joint military commands and theatre commands, Integrated Theatre Commands; and that the process of theaterisation will be complete in a number of years.

Each command will have units from Army, Navy and Air-force working in synergy with each other. In September 2021, the CDS aired views on a prospective rocket or missile force.

(with inputs from PTI)

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