- The Defence Ministry requested last week that the three-service headquarters provide a list of personal details for the current Chief and serving commander-in-chiefs
- The administration is adamant that the next CDS have the power to break down silos within the military and operationally synergize them through proposed military theatre commands.
The appointment of a new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is the hot topic of debate among the top brass after the Defence Ministry solicited the personal profiles of all military commanders and commander-in-chiefs from the three services since January 1, 2020, last week. General Bipin Rawat, who died in an IAF helicopter mishap in Coonor, Nilgiris district, on December 8, 2021, would be succeeded by the next CDS.
Although speculation about who will be the next CDS is rife in military headquarters, the Defence Ministry looks to be taking its time and would prefer a thorough candidate selection process for the appointment of the second CDS.
There are no plans to split the CDS post by separating the Secretary (Department of Military Affairs) department and relegating the position of main military counsellor to the government to a largely ceremonial one.
The Defence Ministry requested last week that the three-service headquarters provide a list of personal details for the current Chief and serving commander-in-chiefs, as well as those Chiefs and C-in-Cs who retired after January 1, 2020.
While the Defense Ministry intended to update the data bank, the military interpreted this as a sign that the Modi government was close to naming the next Chief of Staff. This has been a hot topic in the South Block, with former chiefs and C-in-Cs fighting hard for a chance to meet with ruling party politicians.
While the next CDS will almost certainly come from the Indian Army, the country’s main force, the Modi government will do extensive background checks to ensure that the next CDS is a capable successor to Gen Rawat and believes in military transformation. The administration is adamant that the next CDS have the power to break down silos within the military and operationally synergize them through proposed military theatre commands.
The issue inside the military is that none of the chiefs want their enormous powers diluted in favour of suggested theatre commanders, and their military assets divided across multiple theatre commands in order to make the Indian military more responsive and potent.In the 75th year of independence, he had every intention of announcing and operationalizing theatre commands.
Despite the fact that the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) was established as a tri-service command in 2001, the three services are fiercely protective of their territories and prefer to operate in isolation. Despite its location and massive military leverage in the Indo-Pacific, the ANC was supposed to be a test case for a theatre command, but it has yet to live up to expectations.
General Rawat and national security planners wanted to turn ANC into a spearhead command with refuelling facilities for any ships passing through the Malacca Straits on their way to the South China Sea or North Asia.
Rather for appointing a retired chief or a retired C-in-C as a CDS, the government would rather wait and pick a three or four star commander who can deal with military pressure from both the northern and western fronts.