According to the report, from the time the CDS was appointed, there have been some abrupt announcements regarding the formation of theatre commands and creation of Joint Air Defence, Maritime and Logistics Commands

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) have now been in existence for a year and have yet to articulate a defence strategy or evolve a Multi-domain concept of operations. According to a paper titled `Institution of the Chief of the Defence Staff: Evaluating the First Year’, published by Delhi Policy Group, “In one year there has not been any notable synergy of operations in the continental and maritime domains, augmented with joint activities in the fields of cyber, space and information warfare.”

While observing that the Operational jointness and delivery of single-point military vision/advice is yet to become evident, the report authored by Lt Gen Anil Ahuja (Retd.) has recommended preparation of a detailed roadmap for the creation of joint commands and Theaterisation. And, it should be fielded for a testbed evaluation.

According to the report, from the time the CDS was appointed, there have been some abrupt announcements regarding the formation of theatre commands and creation of Joint Air Defence, Maritime and Logistics Commands.

For an Air Defence Command, detailed deliberations on the working out of detailed nuances of air defence are critical. And “these range from the tactical battlefield to national level air and ballistic missile defence; inter-services communication, weapon systems integration; integration of multiple origin radars, early warning and command and control functions,” he recommends.

Also, for creating a pool of qualified personnel for manning tri-service billets in theatre command HQs would require rigorous preparatory steps, including training and cross-service placement of suitable officers.

“For the maritime commands — much greater deliberations over considerations of the span of control, inter-service communication architecture and evolving an appropriate manning and staffing pattern to handle tri-service operational and logistic requirements are required,” according to the report.

The former Indian Army officer has gone on to suggest consolidating existing tri-service organisations and structures (HQ IDS, ANC, SFC, Cyber Agency, Space Agency, Special Operations Division, tri-service training establishments).

And, to promote “Jointness” – optimum utilisation of available infrastructure with the three services; integrated tri-service surveillance and communication networks; joint operations; training; logistics. It should also include transport repair and maintenance.

Role of The CDS

He is the Permanent Chairman COSC. And as CDS is administering tri-service organizations and exercising command over Cyber and Space Agencies and the Special Operations Division.

He is also the military adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA), and like other Service Chiefs, and is a member of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the defence minister and of the Defence Planning Committee (DPC) chaired by the National Security Advisor.

Besides bringing in optimisation, in his three years tenure, in joint operations; communications; training; and logistics, the office of Gen Rawat has also been tasked to help in streamlining the entire perspective planning process for defence acquisitions, with emphasis on indigenisation.

The author has indicated that the CDS is “is expected to assign inter-service priority to Capital acquisition proposals, which are based on multi-domain operational requirements and the anticipated defence budget.”

How Will These Measures Help?

“These would enable the Armed Forces to implement a coordinated defence doctrine, foster joint manship, optimize resource utilization. And will lay the foundation for the establishment of Joint/Theatre Commands over a period of time (which has not been stipulated specifically).”

Implementation of Proposed Reforms

Within the first year of the new institutional structure, the country is facing one of the big security challenges across its northern borders with China, with intensified hostile activities along the western borders with Pakistan.

In his report, the author has clearly stated “Though the physical manifestation of the challenge is primarily along the land borders, its peripheral impact extends to the maritime and other asymmetric domains.”

The report states that such an environment provides an early opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of this major defence reform, and to carry out a critical reappraisal of the new structure and the charter of duties assigned to it. Adding that it is also a chance for the pioneering incumbent to display his strategic and military acumen.