NEW DELHI: India will now finally get a chief of defence staff (CDS) or a tri-Service chief, a four-star general like the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs but who will be "the first among equals", to act as a single-point military adviser to the government and inject some much-needed synergy among the armed forces.

The Cabinet on Tuesday morning cleared the role and charter for the CDS, who will head a new department of military affairs and have the salary and perks of a Service chief. The CDS will also be the permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, as also have tri-Service organisations dealing with space and cyberspace under his direct command.

General Bipin Rawat, who completes his three-year tenure as the Army chief on December 31, is likely to be named for the post soon. Lt General Manoj Mukund Naravane, in turn, will take over the reins of the Army on December 31.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his August 15 speech from the Red Fort, had declared the country would soon have a CDS "to further sharpen the coordination between the forces", which must truly integrate to face the challenges of technology-driven futuristic wars.

TOI had then reported that Gen Rawat was the front-runner to become the CDS, who will provide "single-point military advice" to the government; handle all tri-Service organisations including the ones for the critical domains of space, cyberspace and special operations; and usher in "jointness" in planning, procurement, training and logistics among the Army, Navy and IAF, which often pull in different organisations.

The government in August had set up "an implementation committee" under national security adviser Ajit Doval to finalise the "exact responsibilities, an enabling framework and all other issues involved to ensure smooth operationalisation" of the CDS post.

While a four-star general like the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs, the CDS will be the "first among equals". The three Service chiefs will continue to retain full operational control over their forces. The CDS post, which will eventually pave the way for unified theatre commands instead of the present single-service ones, is a pivotal defence reform hanging fire since the 1999 Kargil conflict.

The CDS post was strongly recommended by the Kargil Review Committee and the subsequent GoM report on "reforming the national security system'' in 2001. Though several unified tri-Service structures did come up, the CDS post was kept in cold storage on the ground that a wider political consensus was needed.

Subsequently, the Naresh Chandra Taskforce in 2012 also recommended a Permanent Chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, a diluted version of CDS, while the Lt-Gen Shekatkar Committee in 2016 suggested a new 4-star general, apart from 3 chiefs, as the "chief coordinator" in the armed forces.