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Defining The Charter Of Chief Of Defence Staff

With the post of CDS, India can rectify the historical deficiency in its defence planning process.



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.

Also Read:
(1) A Chief Of Defence Staff Is A Historic New Beginning
(2) Chief of Defence Staff Implementation Calls For Pragmatic Blueprint

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.

Defence Planning:

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.

Capital Procurement:

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,” MoDGoI, March 2016.

Tri-Service Agencies:

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.

Defence Diplomacy:

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.

Quality Assurance:

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.

Originally published by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.inhere.

Laxman K Behera

Dr Laxman Kumar Behera is a Research Fellow at IDSA. He specialises in issues related to Arms Procurement, Defence Offsets, Defence Industry, Military Spending, and Export Control. Dr Behera has authored numerous policy-relevant research publications. His book 'Indian Defence Industry: An Agenda for Making in India' provides a comprehensive analysis of India’s evolving arms manufacturing sector.

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India Dismisses China’s Claims On Galwan As “Untenable, Unacceptable”

All infrastructure built by the Indian side is naturally on its own side of the LAC: MEA



NEW DELHI:  In a terse, precise and categorical message to China, India has once again reiterated that Galwan Valley is historically its territory and New Delhi will not accept “untenable and exaggerated” claims by China with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The position with regard to the Galwan Valley area has been historically clear. Attempts by the Chinese side to now advance exaggerated and untenable claims with regard to Line of Actual Control (LAC) there are not acceptable. They are not in accordance with China’s own position in the past,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Saturday.

He said that the Indian troops are fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC in all sectors of the India-China border areas, including in the Galwan Valley. They abide by it scrupulously and the Indian side has never undertaken any actions across the LAC. In fact, they have been patrolling this area for a long time without any incident.

On Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian released a statement that gave Beijing’s “step by step” version of the events which led to the Galwan valley face-off of June 15. India has said that 20 of its soldiers were killed, while around 76 were injured in the physical hand-to-hand fight with Chinese troops on Monday night.

The Chinese document reiterated China’s recent claim over the whole Galwan valley, but it also accused India of violating the understanding reached on June 6 among senior commanders that Indian patrols “would not cross the estuary of the Galwan river”.

Responding sharply to the statement by the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Friday on the events in the Galwan Valley area, Srivastava gave a detailed account of the incident.

The MEA official said that since early May 2020, the Chinese side has been hindering India’s normal, traditional patrolling pattern in this area which had resulted in a face-off that was addressed by the ground commanders as per the provisions of the bilateral agreements and protocols.

Subsequently in mid-May, the Chinese side attempted to transgress the LAC in other areas of the Western Sector of the India-China border areas. These attempts were invariably met with an appropriate response from us. Thereafter, the two sides were engaged in discussions through established diplomatic and military channels to address the situation arising out of Chinese activities on the LAC…We do not accept the contention that India was unilaterally changing the status quo. On the contrary, we were maintaining it,” the MEA spokesperson said.

He added that the senior commanders met on June 6, 2020, and agreed on a process for de-escalation and disengagement along the LAC that involved reciprocal actions.

However, the Chinese side departed from these understandings in respect of the LAC in the Galwan Valley area and sought to erect structures just across the LAC. When this attempt was foiled, Chinese troops took violent actions on June 15, 2020, that directly resulted in casualties,” he added.

The Spokesman said, the two sides are in regular touch and early meetings of military and diplomatic mechanisms are currently being discussed.

Referring to telephone conversation between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on June 17, Srivastava said the EAM conveyed India’s protest “in the strongest terms on the events leading up to and on the violent face-off on June 15, 2020“.

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Indian Air Force Fully Prepared For Contingencies At LAC: IAF Chief

IAF has taken all necessary measures including increasing the patrolling in the area: IAF Chief



HYDERABAD (Telangana): Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria today said the Indian Air Force is fully prepared for any contingency in the wake of the situation at the LAC.

Speaking to the media in Hyderabad following the combined passing out parade at Dundigal in Hyderabad, he said the IAF is not foreseeing any war. However, he added that the IAF has taken all necessary measures including increasing the patrolling in the area.

Stating that the sacrifices of the soldiers during the Ladakh face-off will not go in vain, he said their actions demonstrated the resolve to protect the sovereignty of the country.

China, the IAF Chief said, had breached all existing agreements at LAC. “All efforts are underway that the current situation is resolved peacefully. We are well prepared and suitably deployed to counter any situation,” he said.

He further said in spite of unaccepted Chinese action after agreements were reached during military talks and the resulting loss of lives, all efforts have been made to ensure that the current situation was resolved peacefully at Galwan Valley.

He made it clear that the forces are well-prepared and suitably deployed to respond to any contingency.

Earlier On June 18/19:

Responding to the continuing Chinese aggression, India has added Apache attack copters, Sukhoi fighter jets, infantrymen and tanks to defences along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The IAF has moved the latest Apache attack 64 helicopters to Ladakh. The bases at Adampur and Pathankot are on alert and are doing patrolling. A navy surveillance plane, Boeing P8I, has been used to capture high-resolution imagery and videos. It can stream videos to war-rooms of the forces in Delhi.

A division of the Indian Army kept ready for contingency, has been acclimatised over the past two weeks for warfighting at more than 14,000 feet. Earlier, in the first week of May, the defences in Ladakh were bolstered by moving another division (some 15,000 troops).

Also, the 3rd Division of the Army, tasked for Ladakh under normal circumstances, is already there. Three divisions now form an arc and are ready to respond.

This comes in response to the massive buildup by China along the LAC opposite Indian positions in Depsang, Galwan, Hot Springs, north bank of the Pangong Tso, Koyul, Fukche and Demchok.

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NAMES Of The 20 HEROES Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice At LAC

The Indian Army has released the names of 20 soldiers killed in action in Monday’s India-China border clash in Ladakh.



NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has released the names of the 20 soldiers killed in the clash with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night. The Army initially said on Tuesday that an officer and two soldiers were killed. But in a late evening statement, it revised the figure to 20.

Here is the list of names released by the Indian Army:

1. Col B Santosh Babu

2. Nb Sub Nuduram Soren

3. Sb Sub Mandeep Singh

4. Nd Sub Satnam Singh

5. Hav K Palani

6. Hav Sunil Kumar

7. Hav Bipul Roy

8. Nk Deepak Kumar

9. Sep Rajesh Orang

10. Sep Kundan Kumar Ojha

11. Sep Ganesh Ram

12. Sep Chandrakanta Pradhan

13. Sep Ankush

14. Sep Gurbinder

15. Sep Gurtej Singh

16. Sep Chandan Kumar

17. Sep Kundan Kumar

18. Sep Aman Kumar

19. Sep Jai Kishore Singh

20. Sep Ganesh Hansda

While China has not yet talked about the number of casualties suffered by the People’s Liberation Army during the clash, sources said citing US intelligence reports said there were 35 casualties on the Chinese side.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday convened an all-party virtual meet on June 19 to discuss the situation on the India-China border:

In order to discuss the situation in the India-China border areas, Prime Minister @narendramodi has called for an all-party meeting at 5 pm on 19th June. Presidents of various political parties would take part in this virtual meeting,” the PMO tweeted.

Monday’s clash between Indian and China is the biggest military confrontation in over five decades that has significantly escalated the already volatile border standoff between the two.

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