NSA Ajit Doval-led panel to set terms for Chief of Defence Staff position
The Union defence ministry has set up a high-powered committee under National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval to implement the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) decision to create the much-awaited post of Chief of Defence Staff and also frame the terms of references for this post, according to top officials in the defence and national security establishment. The NSA-headed implementation committee will submit its report in the next six weeks.
Given that the present Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa will retire on September 30, it is expected that Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat will be the frontrunner for the post of CDS. As per the CCS recommendations, the CDS will retire at the age of 64. Gen Rawat becomes the COSC after Dhanoa. He completes three years as Army Chief on December 31, 2019 and is due to retire on the same day.
According to the officials, the members of the committee, apart from the NSA, will be the Cabinet secretary, the defence secretary, and the secretary, expenditure and COSC. A letter on the Cabinet decision to be implemented has already been issued by the defence ministry to NSA and the committee’s members. Ajit Doval, who returned from Russia today, is leaving for France to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s entourage.
While the Narendra Modi government is tight-lipped about the powers of the CDS, it is learnt that he will be single-point military advisor to the defence minister, and interface with the NSA in the Defence Planning Group and Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) as a member of the bodies.
According to the officials, the CDS will set budgetary priorities on the basis of available capital outlay for the three services and also define the acquisition priorities for hardware for the armed forces without any duplication. The CDS will be the point person for military diplomacy for the country and be responsible for the overall preparedness of the forces.
The CDS, apart from assuming all the roles of COSC in the context of training, jointmanship, education in military academies, will be the head of tri-service Andamans and Nicobar Command (ANC) and will have substantive financial powers.
While all the three service chiefs will be answerable to him, the CDS or permanent COSC, will have the tri-services Strategic, Cyber, Space and Special Operations Command under him, with heads of these commands being held by the services in rotation. The key idea here is that the CDS will infuse synergy among the three services.