Who Will Be India’s Next Chief Of Defence Staff? The Game Of Guessing Has Begun!

The Indian government has keeping its cards close to their breast and has yet to disclose the name of the next CDS, Gen MM Naravane, PVSM AVSM SM VSM ADC, who is slated to conclude his term on 30th April 2022. Since the untimely death of the former CDS, Gen Bipin Rawat, the position has been vacant.

The battle indicators of the current Chief retiring are missing, as he would have been visiting numerous formations / units on his farewell trips in the usual order of things.

The word on the street is that the government has opted not to break the chain of succession and will most likely identify the CDS on April 30th, or before Gen MM Naravane takes over as the second CDS. Because he would be senior to all three military chiefs, the option is logical.

What are the challenges that the CDS will have to deal with?

India is balancing on a knife’s edge in the international arena as a power battle rages on. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has successfully diverted attention away from the CCP/aspirations PLA’s to expand their dominance in the South China Sea, the Sea of Japan, and the Indian Ocean. Its signing of a peace deal with the Solomon Islands is a sham because it continues to expand its global reach.

The Ukrainian battlefield acts as a modern test bed for all military equipment to be tested, tried out, and their performance standards assessed, with all targets provided by the Russian Army.

Many armchair strategists have begun to work on the lessons learnt from this fight, which was triggered by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s prediction that Russia may ultimately win the war in Ukraine.

Only time will tell whether US/NATO Information Warfare contributed to the development of a global perception of the Russians; only time will tell which way the weighing scales measure victory / failure.

The CDS is in for a major job, and he’ll have to get started immediately away because the Indian forces will want both hardware and software. Equipment obsolescence should be a major priority area, as should the integration of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to lessen reliance on human resources.

The recent conflicts in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the conflict in Ukraine, are not perfect examples of a conventional conflict, but rather a skirmish of pitching in muscle power, without the conventional wisdom of having conducted a terrain analysis.

The use of troops, as seen on news channels and social media, indicates that no battle procedures / drills were followed. The logistical assistance appears to have been overlooked, and the piecemeal use of land systems has exposed their flaws.

Armour is relevant in the Indian setting for any offensive operations or the restoration of a bad situation in a defensive struggle. All platforms will continue to target the Tank as an offensive weapon in order to eliminate the adversary’s offensive potential.

The tanks used today did not have protection against precision top attack as well as protection below the hull in their design criteria. Skirting plates and ERA panels were used to defend the frontal plane and the wide of the tank. Active protection technologies do exist, but they have fallen short in the gun vs. butter fight.

Tanks, ICVs, artillery guns, helicopters, aircraft, ships, submarines, and foot soldiers will all be hit; yet, this does not rule out the possibility of conflicts and nations imposing their will on an adversary. The older strategists who have ingested too many blood thinners appear to give up far too easily and quickly.

The Indian Air Force faces significant difficulties. A substantial portion of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) fighter force is expected to be phased out, with 83 Tejas Mark 1A planes being ordered as a firm replacement so far. The other projects are still in the works.

Organizational changes, dwindling manpower in units and training centres, challenges posed by insecure neighbours Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, and Myanmar, and higher PLA defence spending will weigh heavily on the CDS, who is the man in charge of conducting war on the ground. Unfortunately, everyone else will express their opinions, which will be irrelevant on the battlefield, whether in Kargil or Galwan.

Whoever is named as the next CDS must have an agile mind, be nimble on his feet, and have a Kevlar spine to stand up to the bureaucracy and be frank with the political leadership of the day on the benefits and drawbacks of both the internal and external issues that we face as a nation?

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