The Hindu Editorials Mains Sure Shot ( 17th aug 2019)
Question: What is the need of CDS? Does the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS),undermine the authority of the three service chiefs over their forces? Discuss.( 250 words)
Context: PM’s announcement in his Independence Day address to appoint a Chief of Defence Staff for management of defence in India.
• After the Kargil War, issue of efficient management of the higher defence organization came into focus.
• A task force headed by K. Subrahmanyam was formed to examine the questions about the anticipation and detection of Pakistani intrusions in Kargil and military responses.
• This strategic expert team highlighted the systemic issues challenging our national security structures, which included poor coordination and technological inadequacies.
• On its recommendations, the Government task d a Group of Ministers (GoM) in the early 2000s to review national security management. They reviewed several aspects ranging from intelligence, internal security, border management and defence.
• The outcome of all these review and recommendations was the appointment of a National Security Adviser, strengthening of intelligence coordination, mechanisms, upgrading the technological capacity of security agencies, and sharpening institutional responses to traditional and emerging internal security challenges.
• But one area that was not addressed properly was that of defence management.
Why is defence management needed?
1. There is a pervasive sentiment in the armed forces that they are not formally included in the decision-making process on defence planning and strategy. And it is reinforced by the fact that Service Headquarters are not within the Ministry of Defence; they are treated more like attached offices. This has led to cumbersome, opaque and antiquated decision-making process.
2. From an operational perspective, the concept of military conflict today extends beyond land, air, and sea, into domains of space, cyber, electronic and information.
In this scenario there is a need of “jointness” of Indian Army, Airforce and Navy. It also requires a polarization of the weapons requirements of the forces and optimization of their resource allocations based on a clearly defined national defence strategy.
• Keeping these in mind the GoM had recommended better efficiency by integrating the armed forces headquarters into Ministry of Defence. It had also asked for the appointment of a CDS (Chief of Defence Staff), who could promote an integrated approach to interservice polarization and resource allocation as well as a pooling of common structures to reduce unnecessary redundancies.
• The task of the CDS as recommended by the GoM was to administer tri-service institutions such as the Andaman and Nicobar Command. But at present his task should also include the recently established tri-service space and cyber agencies.
• So mainly his task would be to provide coordinated military advice to the Defence Minister, incorporating the perspective of individual services.
Why was the recommendation of establishing a CDS not implemented earlier?
• There was an apprehension that CDS would undermine the authority of the three service chiefs over their forces.
• Also, there were apprehensions that an all-powerful CDS would distort the civil-military balance in our democracy.
• But many democracies have the institution of a CDS or its equivalent, with varying degrees of operational control over their armed forces. But instead of acting as a distortion, it has led to greater participation the military in decision-making alongside the civilian bureaucracy, enhancing the coherence and transparency of policies.
• In almost every case the appointment of CDS has been a top-down decision, to which systems have subsequently adjusted.
- As understood the role of CDS in India is to foster jointness of the tri-services because it is only after achieving jointness in training, exercises and infrastructure that feasibility of regional commands can be explored in the specific context of India’s geography and nature of its internal and external threats.
- It can also contribute to rational defence acquisition decisions, preventing redundancy of capacity among the services and making best use of financial resources.
•This is a very credible step, but there are other things too that need attention like India is still one of the top arms importers of the world. We need to focus on indigenization to reduce our dependence on other countries.
•Also, the terms of acquisition of arms from other countries should be such that it strengthens our indigenous technological capacities, in turn aiding defence self-reliance.
•Also, there is a need of integrating the CDS and the three-service headquarters under the Ministry of Defence because without this the purpose of establishment of CDS cannot be meaningfully fulfilled.
•Overall this is a much-needed reform and we can accept positive results.