NEW DELHI: The defence ministry is deliberating on creation of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post, a fourstar General position. If implemented, it would be the first major military reform by the BJP government apart from changes made in procurement process.
Sources have told ET that the issue of appointing a CDS to promote jointness in planning, operations and modernisation of the three armed forces was revived by the ministry and the formula being worked out could lead to the creation of a fourth four-star General. At present, the chiefs of the three armed forces are the only four-star service heads.
While a joint structure for the three forces exists, the Chief of Integrated Staff is a three-star officer with limited authority to bring the armed forces together on critical issues like procurement, joint planning and training.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has in the past few weeks approved major changes in the procurement policy to bring it up to the demands of the services as well as the industry, is believed to be pursuing the matter closely.
Deliberations on the matter are expected to take a few months but the government is convinced that a new post needs to be created to deal with future and current challenges that the present structure does not cater to.
The creation of a cyber-command as well as a space command for instance — both accorded top priority by the government — would be incomplete without a chief of defence staff who would be able to bring the three services in cohesion.
Though a firm structure has not been approved, there are indications that the first CDS could be from the Army, the largest of the three armed forces.
While the three services would report directly to their respective chiefs, the CDS would be in charge of the tri-services command at Andaman and Nicobar islands, the strategic command in charge of nuclear weapons, plus the upcoming cyber and space command.
The three-star post of the Chief of Integrated Staff could then be renamed as the Vice-Chief of Defence Staff to assist the CDS.