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The new CDS has his task cut out
News: The Government appointed former Eastern Army Commander Lt. General Anil Chauhan as the next Chief of Defense Staff (CDS). The next Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) shall also function as Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Military Affairs.
• The CDS is a four-star General/Officer who acts as the Principal Military Advisor to the Defence Minister on all tri-services (Army, Navy and Indian Air Force) matters.
• CDS acts as the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee which will also have three service chiefs as members.His core function will be to foster greater operational synergy between the three service branches of the Indian military and keep inter-service frictions to a minimum
• He also heads the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the Ministry of Defense.
• The CDS is also vested with the authority to provide directives to the three chiefs.However, he does not enjoy any command authority over any of the forces.
• CDS is first among equals, he enjoys the rank of Secretary within the DoD (Department of Defense)and his powers will be confined to only the revenue budget.He will also perform an advisory role in the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA).
Why does the new CDS has his work cut out?
• He will have to continue on the unfinished work started by Late Gen Rawat. Gen Rawat had dived into the CDS mandate for modernization of the armed forces, especially the creating of integrated theatre commands.
• He will need to allay the fears of how theaterisation might dilute the role of the service chiefs. Gen Rawat’s push for about 5 to 6 theatres to replace the 17 single service commands got stuck due to difference between them.
• To check how Russia’s war in Ukraine affects India’s procurement, what diversification Delhi might bring in its hardware purchases, and how much of a say the CDS will have in this.
• As the Agnipath scheme is also introduced the challenge before the CDS will be to ensure that this scheme does not alter the efficiency of the armed forces.
• The need to build operational capability at a pace that will ensure that the military power asymmetry vis-à-vis China remains manageable.
• Integrating military planning and training to levels that go beyond lip service.
• Balancing the need to retain the operational capability and the government’s push towards self-reliance to defence manufacturing.
• Lastly and most importantly, the new CDS must build a bridge between a government in a hurry and an organization resistant to change.
• The CDS must not hesitate to speak truth to power. He must be impartial while taking tough decisions and hold national interest above all-else.