Chief of Defence Staff – UPSC GS3

A review of the working of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) after one year of its creation.
Benefits of CDS:
  • Promotes jointness: In procurement, training and staffing for the services through joint planning and integration of their requirements.
  • Optimal utilisation of resources: by bringing about jointness in operations through the establishment of joint/theatre commands.
  • Promotes the use of indigenous equipment: by the services.
Concerns related to CDS:
  • Mixed results:  Tangible impact and outcome on India’s national security and the manner in which overall military capability has been nurtured by the first CDS are mixed.
    • Failed to enhance National security: Eg. failed to prevent Chinese intrusion across the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh in early 2020.
    • Possibility of devaluation of military’s composite efficacy index: Due to attempts of hasty re-structuring of military commands (17) during a Covid-blighted period.
  • Challenge of creating credibility: India’s existing military capability has a credibility nurtured by professionals over the decades in a distinctive ecosystem. It will be challenging for CDS to create such credibility.
  • Lack of debate and synthesis of divergent views: in creating CDS.
  • Corrosive policy proposals by CDS: E.g.  “Tour of Duty” that seeks to introduce short tenures for new recruits to save on pay and pension amounts to putting the onus of reducing revenue budget on the military alone.
  • CDS attending religious functions: E.g. attended a religious event in Gorakhpur on December 4 by skipping the Navy day function.
  • Politicisation of military: CDS has proposed a three-year “internship” for those who “do not want to make defence services their permanent vocation” in light of rising nationalism and unemployment.
    • The scheme appears to be part of politics built around ultra-nationalism and glorification of military service without actually addressing the concerns of the military.
 Conclusion:  Deep and candid introspection is warranted for the Chief of Defence Staff to have a tangible impact on military reforms.

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