|Chief of Defence Staff|
|Integrated Defence Staff|
|Type||Chief of Defence|
|Status||Leader of the Armed Forces, Highest ranking military officer|
|Member of||Chiefs of Staff Committee|
National Security Council
Defence Acquisition Council
Defence Planning Committee
Nuclear Command Authority
|Reports to|| Prime Minister |
Minister of Defence
|Residence||New Delhi, India|
|Seat||Integrated Defence Headquarters|
|Appointer||Appointments Committee of the Cabinet|
|Term length||Not fixed,|
May serve until the age of 65.
|Precursor||Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee|
|Formation||24 December 2019|
|First holder||General Bipin Rawat|
|Deputy||Chief of Integrated Defence Staff|
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. 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, and held it until his death in a helicopter crash on 8 December 2021.
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. 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).
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. 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] At the time of the creation of the post, no analogous position existed.
The position was first officially suggested in 1999 following the Kargil War through the recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee. Although it was previously proposed, 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. 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.
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. The senior-most of the three service chiefs would be appointed Chairman CoSC.
General K. V. Krishna Rao advanced creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff in June 1982. 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. 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. 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.
The matter had opposition over the years on various fronts. 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. There were also fears that such a post would be too powerful. 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.
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. 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. 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).
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. This decision was made, as there was no clear order of succession for the CDS.
As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, CDS will perform the following functions:
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.
- Died in office
|No.||Portrait||Chief of Defence Staff||Took office||Left office||Time in office||Service branch||Minister of Defence||Ref.|
|1 January 2020||8 December 2021 †||1 year, 341 days||Indian Army||Rajnath Singh|||
Among the first reforms proposed by the new CDS was the creation of an Air Defence Command. 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'. 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. Each command will have units from Army, Navy and Air-force working in synergy with each other. In September 2021, the CDS aired views on a prospective rocket or missile force.