The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) would be appointed shortly, according to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, a week after the government changed the eligibility requirements for the position.
“The CDS would be appointed as quickly as possible. “Everything is in the works,” Singh stated during a news conference following the introduction of the “Agnipath.” “a programme for enlisting soldiers in the armed forces
Since the death of India’s first CDS, General Bipin Rawat, in a helicopter crash on December 8, the post of CDS has been vacant. The CDS wears two hats: he is the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Secretary of the Defence Ministry’s Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
Following Gen. Rawat’s death and the vacancy of the CDS office, the Chiefs of Staff Group has reverted to the original configuration, with the senior-most service chief chairing the committee, while the DMA is overseen by Additional Secretary Lieutenant General Anil Puri.
Within the Defence Ministry, the selection of the CDS and the creation of the DMA were the most significant military reforms in decades. In addition to chairing the Chiefs of Staff Committee and leading the DMA, the CDS was tasked with fostering military unity and establishing theatre commands.
Currently, the Army, Air Force, and Navy each have their own command structure with overlapping responsibilities and tasks. A theatre command would entail that a specific area – a theatre – is under the command of a single officer, who would oversee the joint operation of all three services in that area, creating synergy and eliminating redundancy.
The march toward jointness and theatrisation appears to have stalled, as the CDS office has been vacant for more than six months.
However, speculations circulated last week that the government was poised to announce an appointment before Rajnath Singh spoke on the CDS appointment on Tuesday.
These reports surfaced after the government changed defence laws to allow any serving or retired three-star officer under the age of 62 to be considered for the post of CDS. This means that not only four-star officers — Generals, Air Chief Marshals, and Admirals — but also Lieutenant Generals, Air Marshals, and Vice Admirals can be promoted to the post of CDS.
While former generals are now eligible, the 62-year-old age requirement prevents any retired service leader from being chosen as CDS.
According to a report, while all three-star officers are eligible, only general-ranking officers who have served in commander-in-chief duties, which means they have led one of their service’s operational commands, will be considered.