Prime Minister, Narendra Modi inspecting the Guard of Honour at Red Fort
The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi inspecting the Guard of Honour at Red Fort, on the occasion of 73rd Independence Day, in Delhi on August 15, 2019.

New Delhi. 15 August 2019. Long awaited decision on appointing a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the ramparts of Red Fort in his Independence Day speech. CDS will be a senior serving military officer from the army, navy or the air force.

“You must have noticed that deliberations are on since a long time to bring reforms in military infrastructure, armed forces and military resources. Previous governments have also discussed the same. Several commissions have been formed and all the reports have brought to light the same issues,” he said.

“There is hardly any difference, but this has been stated repeatedly.  There indeed is coordination between our Navy, Army and Air Force. We can be proud of the arrangement of our armed forces.  Any Hindustani can be proud of Indian Military. They also strive for modernity in their own way,” he added.

“But the world is changing today, the scope of war is changing, the nature of war is changing. It is becoming technology driven; in the circumstances India too should not have a fragmented approach. Our entire military power will have to work in unison and move forward. Things cannot move smoothly if anyone from the Navy, Army and Air Force is a step ahead from the other two forces, while the other two are lagging behind. All the three should move simultaneously at the same pace. There should be good coordination and it should be relevant with the hope and aspirations of our people.  It should be in line with the changing war and security environment in the world and today I want to announce an important decision from Red Fort. The subject experts on the issue have been demanding this for a long time. Today we have decided that we will now have a Chief of Defence Staff- CDS and after formation of this post all the three forces will get effective leadership at the top level. The CDS System is a very important and compelling task in our dream to reform the strategic pace of India in the world,” he stated.

A Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to oversee the military was first recommended by a committee set up after the Kargil war of 1999. Higher defence management reforms have been not only suggested but recommended by the Subrahmanyam Committee under the Prime Ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee to Naresh Chandra task force constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and last Modi government’s Shekatkar Committee.

A welcome decision, as earlier, the Modi government had restructured the entire national security structure through formation of Defence Planning Committee (DPC), having three deputy National Security Advisors, a China-centric think tank, having a military adviser and reconstitution of Strategic Policy Group (SPG) under the National Security Council Secretariat.

The details of the functioning of the CDS are awaited but the hope is that it turns out to be not an old wine in a new bottle of currently, the seniormost of the three Chiefs functions as the Chairman of the COSC in an additional role. But this Independence Day PM Modi did give a historic decision indeed and the military fraternity applauded the announcement.