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Role of Chief of Defence Staff, CDS BIPIN RAWAT,Roles & Powers of CDS

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

What is the issue?

  • General Bipin Rawat took over as the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a post created in the Defence Ministry.

Who is Bipin Rawat?

General Bipin Rawat, named as the first Chief of Defence Staff of the country, has had a long career as an officer of the Indian Army. He took over as the 27th Chief of Army Staff about three years ago on December 31, 2016. Before being appointed as the Army chief, Gen Rawat was tenanting the appointment of the Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) of the Indian Army.

General Bipin Rawat, is an alumnus of St. Edward School, Shimla, and NDA, Khadakwasla. He was was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.

An alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command & National Defence College Courses, the General, during the span of over 38 years service in uniform, has been awarded for gallantry and distinguished service with the UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, COAS Commendation on two occasions and the Army Commander’s Commendation. The General Officer also attended the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.

Academically inclined, he has authored numerous articles on ‘National Security’ and ‘Leadership’, which have been published in various journals and publications. He was awarded M. Phil in Defence Studies from Madras University. He has a Diploma in Management and another Diploma in Computer Studies. General Bipin Rawat has also completed his research on military media strategic studies and was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut in 2011.

Why is the CDS said to have a ‘dual-hatted role’?

  1. the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee which has the three service chiefs as members

  2. the head of the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the Defence ministry.

  • The former is a military role while the latter is a role in the government.

  • It is as the head of DMA that his major responsibilities within the ministry will be discharged.

  • The CDS has the status of a Cabinet Secretary, but functionally will head a department headed by a Secretary.

  • Also, he will be under a ministry where the Defence Secretary is in charge of the ministry.

What will be the CDS’s role in military?

  • The CDS will neither command the three service chiefs nor be the single-point military adviser to the government.

  • The CDS will act as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister only on tri-services matters.

  • The three service chiefs will continue to advise the Defence Minister, as done so far, on matters exclusively concerning their respective services.

  • The government has also made it explicitly clear that the CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three service chiefs.

  • But, the service chiefs will be members of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, which will be headed by the CDS.

  • [Earlier, the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee was the senior-most chief among the three services by rotation.]

  • However, none of the other powers of the service chiefs, including of advising the government, has been curtailed or transferred.

  • Nevertheless, the DMA, headed by the CDS, will also have the armed forces under its ambit.

  • If promotions, postings and disciplinary matters of three services fall under the DMA, it will give the CDS extensive influence over the 3 service chiefs.

  • Despite these, technically, the Department of Defence (headed by the Defence Secretary) will be responsible for the defence of India and every part thereof.

What is the task ahead for the CDS?

  • The CDS has been given a time-bound task, to be done within 3 years.

  • This is to bring about jointness in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, and repairs and maintenance of the three services.

  • As the head of the DMA, the CDS also has to facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources.

  • This will be achieved by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands.

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