• Who will be the new CDS?

By Sangeeta Saxena

New Delhi. 08 June 2022. It has been exactly six months since the Chief of Defence Staff died in that unfortunate chopper crash on his way to address at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in Tamil Nadu on 8th December 2021. The day gone by was one of surprise for South Block watchers. Its corridors were abuzz with the question – who will be next CDS?

Government of India has ammended Military Acts to home on to the next CDS. It was a notification issued for the Air Force, that the government may consider an officer who is serving as Air Marshal or Air Chief Marshal or an officer who has retired in the similar ranks but has not attained the age of 62 years on the date of appointment. It said the considerations would be made “if considered necessary, in public interest, which was a news that spread like wild fire. By the end of the day the news was that it was an ammendment made in the Indian Army and Indian Navy too.

This means that all three-star and four-star officers from the three services, including those who retired in the last two years, will be eligible for consideration. But the most interesting is the clause that the candidate should not have ttained the age of 62 years, has put expectations of General MM Naravane becoming the CDS aside, as he retired as Chief at 62. Rumours which were making rounds that either Admiral Karambir Singh or Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria former Chiefs of their respective services might become CDS , are also qaushed.

The authenticity of the news was confirmed when the government medium All India Radio tweeted with pictures of the three ammendments.

The first CDS was from the largest service , the Indian Army. He was an officer who rose to become the Chief of Army Staff and was selected as the Chief of Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces. His unfortunate death in the middle of the tenure created a void which is not only taking time to fill the vacant post but also creating a policy change for the selection of the second incumbent. In the process the government has widened it’s area of choice and has given a lot of three star and four star officers hope to reach this acme of military achievement.

CDS is the military head and permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) of the Indian Armed Forces. The Chief of Defence Staff is the highest-ranking uniformed officer on active duty in the Indian military and chief military adviser to the Minister of Defence. The Chief also heads the Department of Military Affairs. The CDS is assisted by a vice-chief, the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff.

The first Chief of Defence Staff took office on 1 January 2020.The position was created with the aim of improving coordination, tri-service effectiveness and overall integration of the combat capabilities of the Indian armed forces. At the time of the creation of the post, no analogous position existed.

The unexpected but awaited buzz started when the Defence Minister is all set leave for a three days visit to Hanoi.So before leaving for the trip he put policy changes in place so that if the cabinet meets tomorrow and announces , his need is sufficed in advance. So now the element of surprise till the expected announcement reigns supreme.