CDS, or Chief of Defence Staff, is the highest rank in the Indian Army; While no one has been appointed to this position in past years, General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS of India. Unfortunately we lost him last year in December 2021.
Now the country is eyeing on who will take over the Position of CDS. But why did the Indian Army need a Chief of Defence Staff? What are CDS's responsibilities?
The country's Chief of Defence Staff is the military commander of the Indian Armed Forces and the chairman of the Indian Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff Committee. The four-star general serves as the Chief of Defence. He is also the head of the Ministry of Defence's newly created Department of Military Affairs.
The Ministry of Defence already had four departments: Department of Defence, Department of Defence Production, Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, and DRDO; and later the fifth department, Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, was added. The Chief of Defence Staff has been appointed to lead Military Affairs.
The CDS has been appointed to ensure that the Armed Forces are properly coordinated. Its goal is to improve army collaboration.
In matters pertaining to the three services, the Chief of Defence Staff serves as the primary military advisor. Despite the fact that the CDS advises the Ministry of Defence on matters concerning the three services, the chiefs of the three services—Army, Navy, and Air Force—advise on matters concerning their respective services.
He also advises the Ministry of Defence on matters, but he is not the commander of any of the three armies; instead, the chiefs of these three armies command their respective forces. India possesses a nuclear weapon. In such a case, the CDS also serves as a military adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority, which is led by the Prime Minister. It established its Aerospace Command (The Integrated Space Cell). This Cyber Warfare Division is also overseen by the CDS. The CDS's job is to help streamline the logistics and capital acquisition needs of the three services based on the estimated budget. Unlike (who used to be the senior most of the three army chiefs), the former Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) has administrative powers.
People frequently believe that the Chief of Defence Staff is also the head of the three services, but this is not the case. The distinction between these two roles is-
CDS cannot issue operational or military commands. That is, he cannot issue any military orders over the three armies' commanders.
Instead of issuing military orders, the CDS's role is to provide impartial advice to the government on issues concerning the three services.
The task of granting military commands to the Army, Navy, or Air Force is performed by their respective Chiefs, rather than the Chief of Defence Staff, on the advice of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
In addition to overseeing the Department of Military Affairs, the CDS is the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC). Previously, the CoSC was led by the senior most service chief in rotation for a short period of time, but this arrangement proved unsatisfactory.
The Chief of Defence Staff, like the chiefs of the three services, is a four-star general.
The position of Chief of Defence Staff is held by the most senior officer among the four star generals.
The Chief of Defence Staff receives the same salary, allowances, and qualifications as the three service chiefs.
The country first faced a Chief of Defence Staff shortage during the Indo-China war in 1962. If the Army and Air Force had launched a coordinated attack at the time, the outcome of the war might have been different. Chinese forces did not have air support at the time.
The lack of coordination among the three wings was also observed during the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operation in Sri Lanka against the LTTE in 1987–89. The overall force commander (OFC) oversaw the Navy and Air Force commanders in that operation, but the OFC is said to have been nothing more than a liaison officer.
The Army's request for air support was initially denied by the Committee on Security (CCS), prompting the Army to conduct air strikes by the Air Force. There was a several-week delay in receiving assistance.
Every one of these incidents differ from the examples of the wars against Pakistan in 1947-48 and the wars against Pakistan in 1971, in which India won through joint operations of armies.