Chief of Defence Staff (CDS): Gen. Bipin Rawat Appointed as first CDS

  • IASbaba
  • January 1, 2020
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TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS): Gen. Bipin Rawat Appointed as first CDS


  • General Bipin Rawat (December 30) appointed the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a newly created post meant to enhance the quality of military advice to the political leadership through integration of service inputs.
  • 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 (in India’s case, to the Prime Minister) on long-term defence planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all, “jointsmanship” in operations.

Need for Chief of Defence Staff

  • In general, the policy formulation is done by Defense Secretary, who is a bureaucrat, while its execution rests with Chiefs of armed forces. This makes defence policy incoherent.
  • The emergence of modern warfare domains like Space, Cyber etc, requires a more integrated approach to defense strategy.
  • group of ministers that was formed in 2001 to explore necessary reforms required to improve India’s national security had also favoured creating the post of Chief of Defence Staff.
  • In 2012 Naresh Chandra task force recommended the appointment of a permanent chairman of chiefs of staff committee.
  • The permanent chairman of chiefs of staff committee is the senior most of the three Chiefs.
  • The CDS is also one of the 99 recommendations made by the Lt. General D.B. Shekatkar (retd.) committee (2016).


  • The creation of the CDS will eventually lead to the formation of tri-service theatre commands intended to create vertical integration of the three forces.
  • This is expected to save money by avoiding duplication between the Services, at a time of shrinking capital expenditure within the defence budget.
  • It will help India in Defense diplomacy.

United States: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

  • According to the US Department of Defence website, 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.

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.

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, per the Department of Defence website.


  1. The KRC Report pointed out that India is the only major democracy where the Armed Forces Headquarters is outside the apex governmental structure.
  2. It observed that Service Chiefs devote most of their time to their operational roles, “often resulting in negative results”.
  3. Long-term defence planning suffers as day-to-day priorities dominate.
  4. Also, the Prime Minister and Defence Minister do not have the benefit of the views and expertise of military commanders, in order to ensure that higher level defence management decisions are more consensual and broadbased.
  5. The CDS is also seen as being vital to the creation of “theatre commands”, integrating tri-service assets and personnel like in the US military.

Connecting the dots:

  • Do you think CDS is required for India?
  • Do you think CDS will create co-ordination between all the three wings of the defence?

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