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Current Affairs

CDS: Role and Powers

Date: 02 January 2020 Tags: Policy

Issue

General Bipin Rawat, the outgoing Chief of Army Staff will take charge as the first Chief of Defence Staff, the newly created integrated position to coordinate between armed forces.

 

Background

The CDS is a high military office that will oversee and coordinate the working of the three Services, and offer seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive.

 

Details

  • The CDS serves as the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee which has the three service chiefs as members, and also as the head of the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the ministry. The former is a military role while the latter is a role in the government.

  • The CDS will act as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister only on tri-services matters.

  • The three service chiefs will continue to advise the Defence Minister, as done so far, on matters exclusively concerning their respective services.

  • The government has also made it explicitly clear that the CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three service chiefs. But the service chiefs will be members of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which will be headed by the CDS.

  • None of the powers of the service chiefs, including of advising the government, has been curtailed and transferred to the CDS.

  • The only thing is the role of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which used to be headed by the senior-most chief by rotation.

  • That has been shelved with the CDS being the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, where he will be supported by the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff.

  • The CDS has been given a time-bound task, to be done within three years, to bring about jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, and repairs and maintenance of the three services, which will eventually lead to shedding of responsibilities by the service headquarters.

  • As the head of the DMA, the CDS has to also facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/ theatre commands. 

CDS in other countries

United States: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

  • The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is the nation’s highest-ranking military officer and the principal military adviser to the President, the Secretary of Defence (equivalent to Minister for Defence in India) and the National Security Council.

  • The CJCS is part of, and heads, a high-ranking body called the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Apart from the CJCS, it consists of the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VCJCS), the military service chiefs from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

United Kingdom: Chief of the Defence Staff

  • The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the professional head of the Armed Forces and principal military adviser to the Secretary of State for Defence (equivalent to Minister for Defence in India) and the government.

  • The UK CDS reports to the Defence Secretary and the Prime Minister. The post is based at the Ministry of Defence and works alongside the Permanent Under Secretary (also called Permanent Secretary), the senior civil servant in the Defence Ministry.

  • The CDS is the main military voice on the Defence Board. As the military strategic commander, CDS is responsible for how operations are carried out.

Australia: Chief of the Defence Force

  • Australia has a diarchy system, under which the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) and the Secretary for the Department of Defence (a senior civilian public servant in the Ministry) jointly manage the Defence organisation.

  • The CDF has primary responsibility for the command of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and acts under the direction of the Minister of Defence.

  • The CDF is the principal military adviser to the Minister and provides advice on matters that relate to military activity, including military operations.