FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
India should have a Chief of Defence Staff
Posted:Jan 30, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Cecil Victor
 
The idea of a post of Chief of Defence Staff for the Armed Forces has been with us since the creation of India as an independent sovereign nation in 1947. Since then it has been mooted -- and shelved -- by all political entities at the helm in New Delhi.
 
The “deep selection” of the current Chief of Army Staff raised speculation that finally the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party will take the plunge on an issue that it has itself sanctified through the Group of Ministers appointed to vet the Kargil Review Committee Report. 
 
In 2001, the Group of Ministers, consisting of Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, removed one of the perceived major roadblocks to the creation of the post of CDS by equating the post of Defence Secretary and the proposed CDS within the Order of Precedence (the official pecking order of government personnel).
 
This was supposed to bring about the much-talked-about “synergy” between the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force which was a lesson learned during the World War when Gallipoli became a disaster because of absence of synergy between the three Services within the Allied Command. “Synergy” in the modern battlefield concept is a dovetailed military effort by the Army, Navy and the Air Force to achieve the destruction and defeat of the enemy in the shortest of time. Ditto between the civilian and military bureaucracy.
 
India learned that lesson with abundant gratification during the Bangladesh campaign of 1971 when General Sam Manekshaw first sought and obtained more time to prepare for the impending war and then finished it off with the liberation of Bangladesh in 13 days flat. 
 
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, it is believed, was ready to appoint as CDS the man she chose as the first Field Marshal of India for his great victory. There could have been no better choice both within the seniority matrix or in the merit framework. But it was Manekshaw’s famous ebullience that soured the pitch when he was quoted as saying ‘my Air Force’ which raised the hackles of the other participant in the Bangladesh victory – Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal who opposed the CDS on grounds that the IAF would be reduced to the coat-tails of the Army instead of being an equal partner.
 
In its attempt to break the logjam, the Group of Ministers sought to create a “synergy” between the civilian and military bureaucracies  equating the Defence Secretary and the proposed CDS. Its formulation was: “The Defence Secretary will function as the ‘Principal Defence Adviser’ to the Defence Minister in a manner similar to the role to be performed by the CDS as the ‘Principal Military Adviser' and both will enjoy the equivalent status in terms of their working relationship as distinct from the Warrant of Precedence….The purpose of this arrangement is to ensure that the aspect of Warrant of Precedence does not vitiate the working environment of the Ministry.”
 
That was as neat a way of avoiding the pitfall of the already enacted Curzon-Kitchener controversy where the British government in Whitehall gave precedence to General Kitchener -- the ‘jangi’ (war) ‘Laat’ (Lord) or Military Member in the Cabinet in India -- over the civilian arm of the British government in India – Governor General Lord Curzon -- thereby setting a precedence for military superiority that, understandably, worried the Indian political leadership in the runup to Independence.
 
Moreover, as an experiment in “jointness”, a unified command was created by upgrading the Fortress Command, Andaman and Nicobar Islands to that of a tri-Service Command with the helm occupied by all the three Services in rotation.
 
Created in 2001, it remains the only joint command in the Indian military pantheon largely because the crawl to the CDS has been interrupted by the suggestion for a Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. It is supposed to be a sort of half-way house between the Chiefs of Staff Committee (in which the three Chiefs share pre-eminence in rotation) and the CDS.
 
In hindsight, the Group of Ministers may well have shot themselves in the foot by suggesting in its rationale for the CDS post “To provide single-point Military Advice to the Government”. Included is the formulation for collegiate confabulations to cater to the interests of the respective Services. It is now being pointed out that where does all this fit in with the concept of “Single point advice”
 
The other reasons for the creation of the CDS were: 
-- To administer the Strategic Forces (Nuclear)
-- To enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning process through intra- and inter-Service prioritisation.
-- To ensure required jointness in the Armed Forces.
 
The rationale for the creation of a Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (as suggested by the Naresh Chandra Committee) is to bolster the creation of the Hq Integrated Defence Staff. Things have not changed at all given the comments of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar as recent as 2015 that “There is no integration mechanism that exists between the three services and there is a lot of infighting amongst them. I will recommend a mechanism for the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS.)
 
When he took the unusual course of a “deep selection” to appoint the next Chief of Army Staff it was to be expected that he would keep his promise.  May be he will do it when the Chief of the Naval Staff (who currently holds the seat of Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee) retires in February. May be.
 
(Cecil Victor is a veteran journalist and security analyst)
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has confirmed his presence for the occasion. In an exclusive interview with INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS, Indonesia’s Ambassador to India, Sidharto R.Suryodipuro, reminded Nilova Roy Chaudhury that the first Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day celebrations, in 1950, w
 
read-more
The words of Ho Chi Minh  “Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty” rang true for the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan when, with increasing brutality, the West Pakistani oppression spread across the land, writes Anwar A Khan from Dhaka
 
read-more
In a significant boost to New Delhi's Act East Policy, India and Japan set up the Act East Forum on Tuesday as agreed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India this year for the annual bilateral meeting that would help to focus and catalyse development in India's Northeast.
 
read-more
  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated on Friday Washington's warning that “all options are on the table” to meet North Korea's nuclear threat while offering to keep the lines of communication with Pyongyang open.
 
read-more
What is commonly referred to as the “border dispute” between India and China manifests itself in two distinct and separate areas of contention. One is Aksai Chin, a virtually uninhabited high-altitude desert expanse of about 37,000 square kilometres. The other is what is now the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh,
 
read-more
The first thing that one sees when a flight approaches New Delhi is thick smog that envelopes the city and its lack of greenery.  In almost all other major cities of India lack of greenery is the most obvious sight that one sees when approaching it by air.
 
read-more

Pakistan has agreed to allow the rupee to depreciate after holding talks with the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF) on the country's economy.

 
read-more

Two major global changes in the past year; the ‘Brexit’ referendum and the advent of Donald Trump, writes Sandeep Kaur Bhatia

 
read-more

It is also imperative for India to explore other regions for markets. Its trade deficit with Latin America has been narrowing. Also, its trade with Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala has increased, ...

 
read-more
Column-image

Over the last 25 years, India's explosive economic growth has vaulted it into the ranks of the world's emerging major powers. Long plagued by endemic poverty, until the 1990s the Indian economy was also hamstrung by a burdensome regulat...

 
Column-image

Title: A Ticket to Syria; Author: Shirish Thorat; Publisher: Bloomsbury India: Pages: 254; Price: Rs 399

 
Column-image

Gorichen, a majestic peak in the Eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 22,500 feet, is the highest in Arunachal Pradesh. Beautiful to look at and providing a fantastic view from the top, it is extremely tough climb for mountaineers.

 
Column-image

It is often conjectured if the reason for long-standing conflicts and insurgencies, in the developing world, especially South Asia, is not only other powers fishing in troubled waters but also the keenness of arms industries, mostly Western, to...

 
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699