Chief of Defence Staff (India)


Chief of Defence Staff
Seal of Chief of Defence Staff (India).png
Seal of the Chief of Defence Staff
Flag of Chief of Defence Staff (India).svg
Flag of the Chief of Defence Staff

since 8 December 2021
Integrated Defence Staff
TypeChief of Defence
StatusLeader of the Armed Forces, Highest ranking military officer
Member ofChiefs of Staff Committee
National Security Council
Defence Acquisition Council
Defence Planning Committee
Nuclear Command Authority
Reports toFlag of India.svg Prime Minister
Flag of the Ministry of Defence of India.svg Minister of Defence
ResidenceNew Delhi, India
SeatIntegrated Defence Headquarters
AppointerAppointments Committee of the Cabinet
Term lengthNot fixed,
May serve until the age of 65.[1]
PrecursorChairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
Formation24 December 2019; 2 years ago (2019-12-24)
First holderGeneral Bipin Rawat
DeputyChief of Integrated Defence Staff
WebsiteOfficial website

The Chief of Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces (CDS) is the military head and permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Indian Armed Forces.[2] The Chief of Defence Staff is the senior-most and highest-ranking uniformed officer on active duty in the Indian military, and is the principal staff officer and chief military adviser to the Minister of Defence. The Chief also heads the Department of Military Affairs. The first Chief of Defence Staff was General Bipin Rawat who took office on 1 January 2020,[3][4] and held it until his death in a helicopter crash on 8 December 2021.[5]

The CDS is a four-star officer selected from among the serving officers of the Indian Armed Forces. While being "first among equals" among the service chiefs, the CDS is a single-point military advisor to the defence minister.[6] The CDS is assisted by a deputy, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. The CDS heads the Department of Military Affairs under the Ministry of Defence, as its secretary. Apart from heading the DMA, the CDS is the Permanent Chairperson of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (PC-CoSC).[7]

The position of the Chief of Defence Staff was created with the aim of improving coordination, tri-service effectiveness and overall integration of the combat capabilities of the Indian armed forces.[8] The Defence Secretary, a civil servant, remains as the main defence adviser, whilst the chief has the role of the main military adviser, acting as a single-point military adviser to the Government of India and the Defence Minister.[a][9] At the time of the creation of the post, no analogous position existed.[10]


The position was first officially suggested in 1999 following the Kargil War through the recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee.[11][12] Although it was previously proposed,[13][14] the official decision to create the position was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2019 at the Red Fort, in New Delhi.[15][16] On 24 December 2019, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) formally announced the creation of the position; a four-star general, a tri-service chief, that shall lead the defence forces.[17][18]

The post of the Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee (Chairman-CoSC) was created in 1947 as a precursor to the post of CDS, responsible for advice to the Defence Minister on all military matters.[19][20] The senior-most of the three service chiefs would be appointed Chairman CoSC.[21]

General K. V. Krishna Rao advanced creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff in June 1982.[22] However, officially, it was only following the Kargil Review Committee's recommendation in 1999 that the Group of Ministers (GoM) officially proposed the creation of the post of CDS in 2001.[12] Following committees, including the Naresh Chandra task force in 2012 and the Lieutenant General D. B. Shekatkar Committee in 2016, also proposed their own versions of a CDS.[23] The process of consulting all parties involved began in 2006. In 2017, the Cabinet Committee on Security started the process of making the final decision related to the creation of a post for the CDS.[24][25][26]

The matter had opposition over the years on various fronts.[27] After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Pratap Chandra Lal, had threatened to quit if the post of CDS was created.[28] There were also fears that such a post would be too powerful.[28] In 2001 the government was on the brink of making the then Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral, Sushil Kumar, the CDS. A date had been fixed including other formalities. However, due to turf wars, among other reasons, the idea was scrapped.[10]

Following the Prime Minister's announcement, a committee was announced on 23 August 2019 under the National Security Advisor, consisting of the Cabinet Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee (C-COSC) among others, to make final the powers of the CDS. The committee was to submit its report within six weeks.[29] By November 2019, government sources reported the committee had largely completed its tasks and would release an official charter and enabling framework for the post of CDS by mid-December.[7] On 24 December, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) formally established the post of Chief of Defence Staff, a four-star general, a tri-service Chief, that shall lead the defence forces as well as play the role of head of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA).[17][18]

On 15 December 2021, following the death of General Rawat, General Manoj Mukund Naravane was appointed Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, pending the appointment of a new CDS.[30] This decision was made, as there was no clear order of succession for the CDS.[31]

Description of the post

Rank insignia of Chief of Defence Staff

As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, CDS will perform the following functions:[2]

  • It comprises one Additional Secretary and five Joint Secretaries.
  • Implementing weapons procurement procedures.
  • Integrating operations of the Army, Air Force and Navy.
  • Bring about jointness and ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure in the three Services.
  • Apart from being the military advisor for the government, the CDS also heads the Department of Military Affairs.
  • Authority to create theatre commands.
  • Command tri-service agencies, organisations, and commands including those related to cyber and space.
  • CDS will be a member of Defence Acquisition Council and Defence Planning Committee
  • Function as the Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority.
  • Bring about reforms in the functioning of three services aimed at augmenting combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure.
  • Assign inter-services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals.

The CDS's salary and perquisites will be same as the service chiefs. The CDS will come under the Right to Information Act.[32]

Uniform and insignia

While the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) wears the appropriately coloured uniform of their parent service, the gold-wreathed tri-service emblem of the Indian Armed Forces (the Naval anchor, crossed Army swords and Air Force eagle, all surmounted by the national emblem of India) is used in place of service insignia and unit emblems. The wreathed tri-service emblem is also substituted for service cap badges, uniform button and belt badge service insignia, shoulder flashes and the shoulder rank badges of a four-star officer with The four-star gorget patches similar to that used by a service chief. While the car pennant is that of the officer's parent service, the tri-service emblem is substituted for the rank stars.[33][34]



dagger - Died in office

No. Portrait Chief of Defence Staff Took office Left office Time in office Service branch Minister of Defence Ref.
Rawat, BipinGeneral
Bipin Rawat

1 January 20208 December 2021 †1 year, 341 days Indian ArmySingh, RajnathRajnath Singh[4][35]


Among the first reforms proposed by the new CDS was the creation of an Air Defence Command.[36] Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDS emphasised the need to minimise costly defence imports, give a chance to domestic production even with only 70% of the general staff qualitative requirements, and not 'misrepresent operational requirements'.[37][38] In February 2020, the CDS announced the creation of joint military commands and theatre commands, "Integrated Theatre Commands"; and that the process of theaterisation will be complete in a number of years.[39][40] Each command will have units from Army, Navy and Air-force working in synergy with each other.[39] In September 2021, the CDS aired views on a prospective rocket or missile force.[41][42]

See also



  1. ^ "The three service chiefs would continue to advise the minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective services"[6]


  1. ^ Dinakar Peri (29 December 2019). "Chief of Defence Staff can serve till 65, says government". The Hindu.
  2. ^ a b "Cabinet approves creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff in the rank of four star General". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 24 December 2019. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Gen Bipin Rawat named as the country's first Chief of Defence Staff". The Economic Times. 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b Ranjan, Rajeev (31 December 2019). Nair, Arun (ed.). "General Bipin Rawat took over as Chief of Defence Staff, US Congratulates Him". NDTV. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  5. ^ "IAF Helicopter Crash Live Updates: CDS Gen Bipin Rawat killed in chopper crash in Tamil Nadu's Coonoor, confirms IAF". The Times of India. 10 December 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Govt sets up Dept of Military Affairs to be headed by Chief of Defence Staff". Hindustan Times. 24 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  7. ^ a b Gupta, Shishir (19 November 2019). "India's first Chief of Defence Staff will direct three service chiefs". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  8. ^ Subramanian, Nirupama (16 August 2019). "Explained: Understanding post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)". The Indian Express. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  9. ^ Singh, Rajneesh (Summer 2017). "Harmonising Military–Bureaucracy Relations in Defence Ministry: Some Thought" (PDF). CLAWS Journal – via Centre for Land Warfare Studies.
  10. ^ a b Unnithan, Sandeep (23 August 2019). "Chief of Defence Staff: Can the new superchief call the shots?". India Today. Archived from the original on 23 August 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  11. ^ Pandit, Rajat (16 August 2016). "India to finally get chief of defence staff, 20 yrs after it was mooted". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b Mukherjee, Anit (21 August 2019). "A top post, its promise and peril". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  13. ^ Kanwal, Gurmeet (27 September 2018). "Where is India's Chief of Defence Staff ?". The Economic Times. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  14. ^ Panag, Lt Gen H S (20 June 2019). "Modi must appoint chief of defence staff – and prove India's political class isn't fearful". The Print. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  15. ^ "PM Narendra Modi's mega announcement: India will now have Chief of Defence Staff". India Today. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  16. ^ "Independence Day 2019 Live Updates- India will have a Chief of Defence Staff: PM Modi in I-Day speech". Hindustan Times. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  17. ^ a b Som, Vishnu (24 December 2019). Srinivasan, Chandrashekar (ed.). "India To Get Its First Chief of Defence Staff, Will Be A 4-Star General". NDTV. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  18. ^ a b Pandit, Rajat (24 December 2019). "India to now get chief of defence staff, will be a 4-star general". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  19. ^ Rej, Abhijan; Joshi, Shashank (2018). India's Joint Doctrine: A Lost Opportunity (PDF). Observer Research Foundation. p. 8. ISBN 9789387407497.
  20. ^ "Mehra Relinquishes Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairmanship" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. 31 January 1976. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  21. ^ Singh, Rahul (24 December 2019). "Govt sets up Dept of Military Affairs to be headed by Chief of Defence Staff". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  22. ^ Elkin, Jerrold F.; Ritezel, W. Andrew (1984). "The Debate on Restructuring India's Higher Defense Organization". Asian Survey. 24 (10): 1069–1085. doi:10.2307/2644220. ISSN 0004-4687. JSTOR 2644220.
  23. ^ Pandit, Rajat (15 August 2019). "PM Modi: India to have new post of Chief of Defence Staff". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  24. ^ Pubby, Manu (11 July 2018). "India may soon have Chief of Defence Staff". The Economic Times. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  25. ^ PTI (15 December 2016). "CCS to take final decision on Chief of Defence Staff post". Firstpost. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  26. ^ Kanwal, Brig Gurmeet (12 December 2013). "Chief of Defence Staff must be Appointed Immediately". Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  27. ^ Roche, Elizabeth (15 August 2019). "Army chief Bipin Rawat may be first chief of defence staff". Livemint. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  28. ^ a b Sinha, S.K. (2007). "The Chief of Defence Staff" (PDF). Journal of Defence Studies. 1 (1): 133–137 – via Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
  29. ^ Shishir, Gupta (23 August 2019). "NSA Ajit Doval-led panel to set terms for Chief of Defence Staff position". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  30. ^ Bhalla, Abhishek (16 December 2021). "Old system till new CDS appointed: Gen Naravane as senior-most service chief fills in for Gen Bipin Rawat". India Today. Retrieved 16 December 2021.
  31. ^ Kaushik, Krishn (9 December 2021). "Explained: No clear line of succession, CCS to decide on next CDS". New Delhi: The Indian Express. Retrieved 23 December 2021.
  32. ^ PTI (3 December 2019). "Chief of defence staff to come under RTI Act; NSA-led panel submits report". The Times of India. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  33. ^ Bhalla, Abhishek (31 December 2019). "Here is what CDS Gen Bipin Rawat's new uniform will look like". India Today. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  34. ^ "Army's Sword, IAF's Eagle and Navy's Anchor on Insignia of India's First CDS Bipin Rawat". News18. 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  35. ^ "Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, wife among 13 killed in chopper crash". The Economic Times. 8 December 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Bipin Rawat holds meeting on creating Air Defence Command". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 2 January 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 17 February 2020.CS1 maint: others (link)
  37. ^ "CDS General Bipin Rawat reiterates 'Make in India' for armed forces". The Economic Times. 10 May 2020. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  38. ^ Pandit, Rajat (10 May 2020). "CDS Bipin Rawat: Forces must shun imports, go for 'Make In India', says Gen Bipin Rawat". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  39. ^ a b "CDS General Rawat unveils big ticket military reform agenda". The Economic Times. PTI. 17 February 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  40. ^ Dutta, Amrita Nayak (4 February 2020). "India's joint military theatre command process to finish in 3 years, says CDS Bipin Rawat". ThePrint. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  41. ^ "EXPLAINED: What Is A Rocket Force, Which Gen Rawat Says India Needs To Fight Battles Of The Future". News18. 17 September 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  42. ^ PTI (15 September 2021). "India looking at creating rocket force: CDS Gen Rawat". The Times of India. Retrieved 22 September 2021.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)

External links

  • Media related to Chief of Defence Staff (India) at Wikimedia Commons