By Sfoorti Mishra
New Delhi, Jan 1 (IANS): Former Army Chief General Bipin Rawat (retd) took charge as the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) here on Wednesday and was congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah on his new role.
Defence experts spell out the benefits from the appointment of the CDS as they said that it was a long standing demand which has been fulfilled.
General Ved Prakash Malik (retd) told IANS: "It was a long standing demand for almost twenty years. The Group of Ministers had agreed to have a CDS but for some reason or the other, it could not happen. Primarily, because both the UPA as well as the NDA government took their own time to make a decision. Now the decision has been taken and a person has been appointed, strategies of defence will be made after consulting with all the three Chiefs and the CDS in the national interest."
On the significance and the role of the CDS, Gen. Malik said: "The change in the nature of warfare and conflicts requires integrated services of Army, Navy and Air Force when it comes to military strategies. They should be working with each other at the topmost level. Someone is required to tackle the problems (if any) and then take decisions. The responsibilities of the CDS will be to synergise the attempts of all the chief services when it comes to operations, fighting as well as in defence planning."
Asserting that the CDS is required to be a one point military advisor to the government, Major General S.B. Asthana (retd) said: "As of now the three Defence Chiefs are parallel in status and they give defence advice to the Defence Minister with regard to their respective services but synergy is needed to be there."
Asthana said that the CDS is a very important position as till now there was no structured coordination despite a Chief of Staff Committee, which was rotational as one of the Chiefs used to head the committee, in place.
"The Defence Secretary, who is common between the three armed forces, generally does not have an understanding of military matters. The advice should come through someone who has expertise in military matters," said Asthana.
Adding to it, Major General Asthana said the importance of having a CDS was realised after the Kargil war. Many reports including the Arun Singh committee report and Kargil review committee report, recommended the appointment of a CDS.
"The need of CDS has been realised after every war. In 1962 war there was no military advice to the prime minister. The bureaucrats could not realise the threat and we were not prepared and that's why we could not handle it," added Asthana.
Talking about the presence of a CDS in other countries, Major General Asthana said that a CDS or equivalent appointments exist in 70 countries. He said: "All major powers in the world understand the need of the CDS. In USA CDS was formulated in 1942, they call it Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Other countries which have CDS include China, Russia and France."
Speaking on the role and responsibilities of the CDS, Major General Asthana told IANS: "The CDS is required to handle the joint commands of structures like DRDO, DG Quality assurance, MES DG Armed forces medical, who were hitherto reporting directly to the Defence Ministry because they are serving in the military also. Apart from this, he is also responsible for handling Andaman Nicobar commands, new commands like cyber commands, space warfare, special force commands, strategic force commands. Over that, he will also be the principal adviser to the Prime Minister in using strategic weapons."
Answering the questions raised over the appointment of the CDS and he being a four star General and not five star, Asthana said that all CDS or equivalent in the world are four star Generals. He will be under the Defence Minister because the elected representative is supreme in a democracy. The CDS is first among equals as far as the three Defence Chiefs are concerned.