Indian armed forces are set to undergo a massive reform with the formation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff, the top-most defence officer of the country who will be the one-point reference for India’s Prime Minister on all defence-related matters. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to have a Chief of Defence Staff - a position senior to the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of the Air Staff, and Chief of the Naval Staff - during his speech on India's 73rd Independence Day from New Delhi's Red Fort on Thursday.
"Our defence forces are India's pride. With a view to ensure and 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 which is going to make the forces even more effective," said PM Modi. The decision once again showed his resolve to take tough decisions in the country's interest.
Our forces are India's pride.
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: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 15, 2019
One of the lacunae often pointed out by defence experts in the Indian defence forces is the absence of the single-point reference for defence issues. The creation of CDS has been a demand for the last few decades to achieve better coordination among the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. Faced with two hostile neighbours - Pakistan of the west and Chine in the north and east - India needs a better coordinated defence command structure.
Currently, India's senior-most defence officer is appointed as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee until the officer retires. Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa is the present Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
The Narendra Modi government during its first term had on April 18, 2019, established the Defence Planning Committee (DPC). The committee works under the National Security Advisor and has the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Army, IAF and Navy chiefs along with the defence, expenditure and foreign secretaries as its members.
Following the 1999 Kargil War, a review committee was set up by the then government of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Kargil Review Committee report was then analysed by a group of ministers (GoM) headed by the then deputy prime minister LK Advani which had recommended the formation of CDS post with a tri-Service joint planning staff headquarters.