Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi: In a landmark military reform, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced that the country will now have a chief of defence staff (CDS) as head of the tri-services, a proposal pending since the Kargil conflict in 1999.

In his Independence Day address from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister asserted that time has come to enhance synergy among the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force to deal with security challenges facing India.

"To further sharpen coordination between the forces, I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort: India will have a Chief of Defence Staff- CDS. This is going to make the forces even more effective," he said. The prime minister said that as head of the three services, the CDS will ensure synergy and provide effective leadership to the armed forces.

The CDS will be senior to the service chiefs and his primary role will be to work towards increasing operational coordination among the Army, Navy or Air Force and deal with India's national security with a comprehensive approach.

The CDS will also act as a single-point military adviser to the prime minister and defence minister on key defence and strategic issues. 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 called for appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff as a single-point military adviser to the Defence Minister.

A group of ministers analysing required reforms in the national security system had also favoured appointing a Chief of Defence Staff. In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Task force had recommended creating the post of a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Former Army Chief Gen. (retd) V P Malik said the decision will make India's national security "more effective" as it will ensure multi-disciplinary coordination.

"Thank you PM Modi for announcing historic step of institution of CDS. This step will make our national security more effective and more economical. It will ensure better jointmanship and multi-disciplinary coordination. Salute!," he tweeted.

Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen (retd) Subrata Saha too welcomed the prime minister's announcement to appoint a CDS. Under the present structure, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee coordinates tri-services issues. The CoSC comprises the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs and the senior-most among them acts as its chairman. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa is currently serving as chairman of CoSC.

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