It has been more than three months since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in his Independence Day address. The delay in appointing the first CDS and assigning its precise role and responsibility is indicative of the complexities involved in implementing what could arguably be the biggest defence reform of the Modi Government.
Coming just after the creation of the National Security Advisor-led Defence Planning Committee (DPC) in April 2018, it heralds a radical departure from the past in so far as India’s higher defence management is conducted.
Since the prime minister’s announcement, numerous recommendations have been made by different quarters, often repeating what the Group of Ministers (GoM) and other expert bodies had suggested in the past. Few have examined other pressing areas pertaining to planning, procurement, joint-service institutions, military diplomacy and quality assurance where an institution like CDS could make a big difference.
India has so far prepared 13 defence five-year plans (FYPs), beginning with the first plan post the war with China in 1962.
These FYPs are in addition to numerous other procurement plans articulated in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict in 1999. These plans and in particular the processes involved in formulating them have, however, hardly been satisfactory.
The major deficiency of the planning process has been the lack of inter- and intra-service prioritisation, leading to duplication of efforts, haphazard capability development and sub-optimal utilisation of resources.
The reason for such a lacklustre planning process has been the glaring absence of an overarching institution with the requisite authority to translate India’s overall defence requirements into a holistic capability development plan while keeping in view the scarcity of resources, technological advancements, self-reliance goals and politico-diplomatic engagements with other countries.
The absence of an overarching agency has led to individual service headquarters (SHQ) to plan and project requirements that are not necessarily in harmony with those of other services. This is not how major countries in the world undertake defence planning.
With the creation of the post of CDS, India has an opportunity to rectify this historical deficiency in its defence planning process.
The CDS could be entrusted with the task of defence planning, subject to overall guidance and directions from the DPC. It could be mandated to prepare and own a holistic 15-year plan from which would follow the five-year capital acquisition plan and the two-year procurement plan.
While preparing the plan documents, the CDS would require to weigh the cost and benefit of different options to achieve the larger security goals, while remaining well within a pre-defined fiscal roadmap and constantly furthering the Make in India initiative in defence production.
In essence, the CDS, through the planning mechanism, would need to determine the most cost-effective and self-reliant force structure and its distribution among the services. It may entail right-sizing manpower to fund capital assets.
Contrary to popular perceptions, the armed forces play a vital role in arms procurement. In fact, two critical stages of procurement – formulation of qualitative requirements (QRs) or technical specifications and conduct of trials – that have the maximum bearing on subsequent decision making and speed of procurement are undertaken at the SHQ level.
These two stages of procurement are, however, most susceptible to delays and controversies because of a variety of reasons, prominent of them being lack of expertise and professionalism.
In the past, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, government-appointed committees, study groups and think tanks all have voiced their concerns and emphasised on greater professionalism and transparency in these two critical aspects. The CDS could be the overall in-charge of these two aspects. Dedicated and professional teams could be set up under the CDS to undertake these two tasks, which would go a long way in expediting the procurement process.
Along with the tasks of QR formulation and conduct of trials, the government may also like to review the existing powers exercised for the purpose of according Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) and sanctioning of capital acquisition proposals (see table below).
Being the head of the tri-service agency, the CDS would be ideally suited to have larger delegated financial powers, over and above those exercised at the SHQ level, to expedite the procurement process.
Suffice it to say that the existing financial powers which were substantially enhanced in the recent past have led to full utilisation of the procurement budget.
Capital Acquisition: Competent Authority for According AoN and Financial Sanction
|Financial Limit (Rs Crore)||Authority for According AoN||Competent Financial Authority (CFA)|
|≤ 300||Services Capital Acquisition Plan Categorisation Higher Committee (SCAPCHC)||Vice Chiefs of Army and Navy, Deputy Chief of the Air Force, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) and Director General, Coast Guard|
|>300 – ≤ 500||Defence Procurement Board (DPB)||Defence Secretary|
|>500 – ≤2000||Defence Acquisition Council (DAC)||Defence Minister|
|>2000 – ≤3000||DAC||Finance Minister|
|>3000||DAC||Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS)|
Source: Extrapolated from “Defence Procurement Procedure 2016,” MoD, GoI, March 2016.
With the appointment of a CDS, it is only natural that all existing joint-service organisations such as training establishments, Defence Space Agency, Special Operations Division, Defence Cyber Agency and integrated commands come under its administrative control. While bringing them under the control of the CDS, it is imperative to address some of the critical deficiencies facing the joint agencies.
For instance, though the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is an integrated theatre command, it lacks teeth due to differing perceptions and priorities of the contributing services.
The Commander-in-Chief of the ANC (CINCAN) is constrained in requisitioning critical assets from the services to perform its assigned task. Addressing such deficiencies would be vital in making the CDS effective.
With the rise of India’s economic and military profile, defence diplomacy has assumed a great deal of importance. Presently, this crucial aspect is being conducted in an ad-hoc manner without an overarching policy direction from or the effective control of the Ministry of Defence.
It would be ideal if the CDS is made responsible for all aspects of defence diplomacy, subject to clear policy guidelines from the government.
All initial vetting of bilateral/multilateral exercises and visits of higher military authorities – to name just a few aspects of defence diplomacy – need to be centrally processed at the CDS level before it is finally approved at higher levels.
The Department of Defence Production (DDP) is often accused of conflict of interest because of its dual responsibility of being the administrative department for both production and quality assurance, the latter function being provided largely through the Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA).
Though there is no hard evidence to suggest DDP’s interference in QA matters, it would be far more important for the DDP to focus on production, leaving the QA function to be dealt with by a neutral agency. The CDS, given its tri-service nature, would be ideally suited to take up this responsibility.
However, any handover of QA functions to the CDS must not come in the way of reforms of DGQA and other such agencies.
Self-certification, a global best practice, must be encouraged to the extent possible to encourage arms producers to own responsibility for their products and be accountable for quality.
Prime Minister Modi’s August 15 announcement to appoint a CDS is undoubtedly a bold and decisive step in reforming India’s higher defence management.
The next logical step for the government is to quickly define the contours of the CDS’ charter of duties and responsibilities to allow him to function in a well-defined territory.
While articulating the roles and functions, the government needs to examine not just the CDS’ role as a single-point military advisor, but also his role in other matters that are equally important in driving critical reforms.
By assigning the CDS a key role in planning, procurement, tri-service institutions, defence diplomacy and quality assurance, the government would simultaneously unleash a host of critical reforms that have been unheard of until now.
Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the personal opinions of the author. League of India does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Four Indian Army Jawans Die In Snow Avalanche Near LoC In North Kashmir
A snow avalanche hit an Army post in Tangdhar area of Kupwara district on Tuesday afternoon where at least two soldiers were trapped.
KUPWARA (UT of Jammu-Kashmir): In Jammu and Kashmir, four Army Jawans died and two more went missing when snow avalanches hit Army patrols in two separate sectors along Line of Control in north Kashmir’s Kupwara and Bandipora districts last evening.
A total of eight Jawans had been buried under the snow avalanches in both the sectors.
Defence sources said that three jawans lost their lives after they were hit by snow avalanche in Tangdar sector of frontier Kupwara district. One Jawan has been rescued from the area and is under treatment.
They added that one Jawan died after getting buried under the snow avalanche in Gurez sector of Bandipora district while two more are still missing since last evening.
The rescued Jawan in Gurez Sector is under treatment at a medical facility.
The rescue and relief operations are underway in the difficult mountainous Gurez Sector amid hostile weather conditions.
Pertinently, on November 30, two Army soldiers were killed when a snow avalanche hit them at southern Siachen Glacier in Leh district of Union Territory of Ladakh.
Four soldiers and two civilian porters had also been killed on 18th of November in an avalanche in northern Siachen at an altitude of approximately 18,000 feet.
India Is Celebrating Indian Navy Day Today
The Navy organises a Beating Retreat and Tattoo Ceremony at Gateway of India, Mumbai on the eve of the Navy Day.
NEW DELHI: December 4 is celebrated in India as the National Navy Day in remembrance of the launch of Operation Trident during the Indo-Pak war in 1971. On December 4 in 1971, during Operation Trident, the Indian Navy sank four Pakistani vessels including PNS Khaibar, killing hundreds of Pakistani Navy personnel. To mark the achievement and remember those who laid their lives for this, India celebrates December 4 as the Indian Navy Day.
TODAY IS #INDIANNAVYDAY. It is observed on December 4 to commemorate @indiannavy‘s decisive role in achieving victory in the 1971 #India–#Pakistan War, which ended with over 93,000 #Pakistani prisoners of war (#PoW). https://t.co/mx1TusEYgM
— League of India (@league_of_india) December 4, 2019
To mark the day, the Navy organises a Beating Retreat and Tattoo Ceremony at Gateway of India, Mumbai on the eve of the Navy Day. This is especially for the show to the general public, where India Naval Band performs in the city of Mumbai.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that valuable service and sacrifice rendered by our Navy have made our nation stronger and safer. Mr Modi saluted courageous navy personnel on the Navy Day:
On Navy Day, we salute our courageous navy personnel. Their valuable service and sacrifice have made our nation stronger and safer. pic.twitter.com/AVe6rMIZkF
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 4, 2019
Navy Day is being celebrated by Southern Naval Command in Kochi today. Vice Admiral A K Chawla, Flag Officer and Commander-in-Chief of Southern Naval Command, laid a wreath during a solemn ceremony conducted at the war memorial in the Naval Base to pay homage to the Navy men who made the supreme sacrifice while defending the nation.
Warships of Southern Naval Command were also dressed with multiple signal flags to mark the festive occasion.
In Visakhapatnam, The Eastern Naval Command will showcase the Indian Navy’s operational capabilities and activities that have been taken up by the Indian navy on the high seas with an Operational Demonstration at RK Beach today evening to commemorate the Navy Day celebrations.
The Navy Day operation demonstration gives an opportunity to the public to have a closer glimpse at the multifarious activities of the Navy and the challenges that naval personnel come across at sea as part of their day to day responsibility towards the securing the Nations interest and sea coast security.
As part of the Navy Day celebrations, Eastern Naval Command organized a Navy Symphonic Band Concert with its team of skilled musician sailors at Samudrika Auditorium on Sunday. Governor of Andhra Pradesh Biswa Bhusan Harichandan witnessed the event. The Governor was received at INS Dega and a presented ceremonial Guard of Honour on his arrival.
In Mumbai, a fly-past and Op demo by naval helicopters, continuity drill, Beating Retreat and Sunset ceremony will be conducted in the presence of distinguished Navy officers and invitees. As part of these celebrations, later in the week, a joint band concert of Indian Navy central band and Russian Federation Navy band will be held at Colaba, in Mumbai.
On the eve of Navy Day yesterday, Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh assured the nation that the Navy is fully prepared to deal with national security challenges.
Lt Gen P S Rajeshwar Takes Over As C-n-C of Andaman & Nicobar Command
Lt Gen Rajeshwar has actively taken part in Operation Meghdoot and Operation Rakshak.
PORT BLAIR (UT of Andaman & Nicobar): Lt Gen Podali Shankar Rajeshwar took over as the 14th Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman & Nicobar Command (CINCAN) on December 01, 2019.
He is a graduate of Indian Military Academy and was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in December 1980.
A gunner and aviator, he is an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College, Army War College and National Defence College in New Delhi and Philippines.
Lt Gen Rajeshwar has actively taken part in Operation Meghdoot and Operation Rakshak.
Further, he has commanded a Medium Regiment in Operation Parakram, an infantry brigade on the Line of Control, Counter Insurgency (Romeo) Force in Jammu & Kashmir and a Corps in the Desert sector.
He has served on various staff assignments and also been UN Military Observer in Mozambique and Rwanda.
Before assuming the present appointment, he was Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC).
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