PM Narendra Modi on Thursday announced the creation of the post of the Chief of Defence Staff, a four-star officer who will be the government’s single-point military advisor.
PM Modi said in his I-Day speech, “Our forces are India’s pride. To further sharpen coordination between the forces, I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort: India will have a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)”. “This is going to make the forces even more effective,” PM Modi said.
This is India’s most significant defence reform in 72 years. Terming it a historic decision, Lt General DB Shekatkar said that it was the most important recommendation made by a committee he headed in 2016.
“The government should also swiftly announce the formation of theatre commands at the earliest and place these under the CDS,” Shekatkar said.
The post of CDS was first recommended by a Group of Ministers (GoM) set up to examine the findings of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) in 2000.
Service chiefs serve a fixed three-year tenure or until the age of 62, whichever is earlier. In the event the government appoints either the Air chief or the Army chief as CDS, it will also have to give either of them an extension to allow them to serve beyond the age of 62.
(ACM Dhanoa retires when he turns 62 next month, General Rawat in March 2020). Or, the government could simply wait until both retire and select a chief from the next batch of four-star officers. As it is with so much else in the present government, no one really knows.