In his first Independence Day speech in his second term Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made a far-reaching announcement for India's defence forces. PM Narendra Modi said his government has decided to establish the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDF) for the three services -- the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.

The demand for having a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has been raised on multiple occasions by experts and veterans. It was first recommended after the 1999 Kargil War. The post is aimed at ensuring better coordination between the three services.

Announcing this big decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "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."


To put it in simple terms, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is a post that will act as the single-point adviser to the Government of India. The officer concerned will be in a position to advise on matters related to all the three services -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- thus making India's armed forces integrated.

The Chief of Defence Forces will also be the head of the three services and will be five-star military officer.


"Briefly put, the case for a CDS has been built around the argument that it is necessary to have a professional body of the highest standing to facilitate 'jointmanship' and render single-point military advice to the government on matters of national security," former Army chief General NC Vij had said in an article for India Today magazine in 2016.

Explaining his stand, Gen Vij (Retd) said the intention behind creating CDS was to "reconcile possible differences" in service-specific opinions to enable the government to arrive at considered military decisions.

"The institution of a CDS is best justified by the importance of strategising for a robust and cost-efficient national defence policy. Implicit in this is the role the CDS would play in fostering inter-services jointness in terms of budgeting, equipment purchases, training, joint doctrines and planning of military operations-an imperative of modern warfare," Gen Vij had written.

In the book 'Reforming and Restructuring: Higher Defence Organisation of India', published by Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, Brigadier (Dr) Rajeev Bhutani (Retd) said, "Probably, India is the only country in the world, where the Secretary Department of Defence -- a generalist civil servant drawn from diverse background and who serves in the Ministry of Defence for a fixed tenure -- has been made responsible for 'the Defence of India and every part thereof including preparation for defence'."

In his 2016 book, Brigadier Bhutani (Retd) wondered, "Does it mean that a bureaucrat heading the Defence Ministry will formulate the operational plans for war fighting and Chiefs of Staff will execute it. If that was an anomaly then it should have been rectified by now."

Meanwhile, reacting to the PM Modi's announcement, Gen VP Malik (Retd), who was the Army chief during Kargil War said, "Thank you PM Modi for announcing historic step of institution of CDS. This step will make our national security more effective and more economical. It will ensure better jointmanship and multi-disciplinary coordination. Salute!"


The recommendation for creating the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was first made after the 1999 Kargil War. A high-level committee that was set up to examine the gaps in the country's security system in the wake of the Kargil War had recommended that the three services should have a Chief of Defence Staff. The committee had said this person, a five-star military officer, should be the single-point military adviser to the Defence Minister.

Besides the high-level committee on Kargil War, a group of ministers that was formed in 2001 to explore necessary reforms required to improve India's national security had also favoured creating the post of Chief of Defence Staff.

Moving in a similar direction, in 2012, the Naresh Chandra Task Force recommended that post of a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) should be created. The CoSC comprises chiefs of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. The senior-most among them would act as the chairman.


In the past 20 years since it was fir recommended, questions regarding the creation of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) have been raised in Parliament from time to time. A question in this regard was raised on February 12, 2018 where the Modi government was asked if it proposes to create the post of CDS.

The government in its reply had said, "Creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was recommended by Group of Ministers in 2001. A decision in this regard was to be taken after consultation with political parties. Subsequently, Naresh Chandra Task Force on National Security recommended creation of the post of Permanent Chairman Chief of Staff Committee in 2012. Both the proposals are simultaneously under consideration of the Government."

One of the reasons why a decision on creating the post of Chief of Defence Staff could not be taken in the past 20 years was that a political consensus could not be created on it. The Group of Ministers which had favoured CDS in 2001 had said it should be done with political consensus. In 2016, the government informed Parliament that this consultation process could not be completed because all political parties have not responded.