Theaterisation to be top priority for the next CDS
Last year, General Bipin Rawat, the country's first CDS, had asked the three services to submit comprehensive reports on theaterisation and joint structures by April, but the timeline was not met. The post has been vacant since Rawat's untimely demise in December 2021.
NEW DELHI: The government’s announcement on the new eligibility criteria for the chief of defence staff (CDS) has stoked hopes that it will soon name an officer to the senior-most military post in the land, and accelerate the theaterisation drive and enhance synergy in the armed forces.
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The theaterisation drive slowed down after former CDS Bipin Rawat’s death and providing impetus to the long-awaited military reform will be one of the top priorities for his successor, officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
“It is clear that the government is inching closer towards appointing the next CDS. He will have to carry forward the work initiated by General Rawat. The department of military affairs (DMA), headed by CDS, handles key matters including theaterisation and other reforms,” said one of the officials.
Last year, Rawat had asked three services to submit comprehensive reports on theaterisation and joint structures by April, but the timeline was not met.
“It is critical to appoint the next CDS at the earliest to carry forward the military reforms,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd). The current theaterisation model to enhance tri-service synergy seeks to set up four integrated commands - two land-centric theatres, an air defence command and a maritime theatre command.
“The top priority for the next CDS will be to speed up military reforms and chart out the ways forward for India’s military considering global developments including the Ukraine war. He will have to ensure the armed forces are always prepared to take on any challenge,” said military affairs expert Lieutenant General DB Shekatkar (retd).
As CDS, Rawat wore multiple hats. He was the permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (COSC), headed the DMA, and was the single-point military adviser to the defence minister.
DMA has been assigned critical responsibilities that include overseeing matters related to India’s neighbouring countries, including border disputes and incidents, development of infrastructure in forward areas and deployment of forces.
Monitoring developments in the Indian Ocean region, Afghanistan, West Asia and South East Asia, and supply of arms and ammunition to friendly countries also come under the purview of the DMA.
Some other responsibilities include restructuring of the army, operational matters of the Indian Air Force, overseas deployment of warships and coastal security.