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Army Chief General Bipin Rawat As The First Chief Of The Defence Staff Begins The New Era Of The Indian Armed Forces

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat is appointed as the first Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and begins the new era of the Indian Armed Forces. And, he faces the immediate challenges towards the modernization of the Indian Armed Forces along with the budgetary constraints.

Photo Credit : BW Businessworld


Finally, the era of Indian Armed Forces bugles the much anticipated structural reforms that captures the essence of the change of the warfare and its readiness to deal with the complexity of today's. The appointment of the Chief of Indian Army, General Bipin Rawat as the India's first Chief of the Defence Staff(CDS) is such decision as it sets out to prepare our armed forces towards a 21st century military. The Chief of Defense Staff is the four star general, holding the rank of the principal military advisor to the defence minister under the newly created Department of the Military Affairs (DMA). The CDS will be first among equals and would be a four-star officer to be just ahead in protocol; the three service chiefs are also four-star officers. 

Government has also made it clear with respect to the command of the services that it will rest with the Chiefs of the services of Army, Air Force & Navy. The CDS will head the newly created agencies for cyber and space warfare. 

General Rawat was appointed the Chief of Army Staff on December 31, 2016 and was to retire tomorrow from service after completing a full three-year term as the Chief of Army Staff. He will continue his service now as the Chief of Defence Staff. 

General Rawat took over the charge of chairman, CCS from Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa last month.The CCS comprises chiefs of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.The senior-most among the three services chiefs is appointed as the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. The post of CCS, which is the prelude to the concept of the CCD was established following the recommendation of the Naresh Chandra Task Force in 2012. The task force had suggested that a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee should be created in India. Before, It was initially suggested suggested by the Kargil Review Committee headed by  K. Subrahmanyam in 1999 which pointed out that India is perhaps the only major democracy where the Armed Forces Headquarters are outside the apex governmental structure. The defence secretary is currently chief advisor to the defence minister on all matters of policy and administration, and is the first among equals among four other secretaries in the MoD.

There are two primary objectives of the CDS. First, the CDS will be tasked with the role of the guardian of the modernization of the Indian Armed Forces. Second, the 'jointness' - integrating operations of the Indian armed forces into one cohesive and effective institutions equipped with modern weapons and intelligence. 

The role of newly created the CDS is not only confined to raising the operational efficiency and logistics improvement but framing the budgetary allocation for the many critical procurement along paving road towards substantial indigenization. 

General Rawat is credited for starting the structural reforms such as brigade formation within the Army which has more or less followed the British era command structure until recently. The formation of the Indian Army’s Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) which is meant to ensure faster punitive and defensive operations has been one of the major initiatives of General Rawat. The Army is studying the report on the IBG's Mountain Strike Corps in Arunachal Pradesh which will further morphed into the lethal force based on the inputs. 

The test further emphasized the need for leaner, smaller, more agile and more manoeuvrable forces that is something Indian Army has also recognized by closely watching the persistence reforms within the Chinese Army. 

General Rawat immediately faces the challenge of the modernization of the Armed Forces. The scale of many such projects are massive and not in sync with the current budgetary allocation. The capital allocation out of the total defence budget which is meant to procure military equipment will only take care of the committed liabilities. and, certainly,  the amount will not be enough to make new purchases. Indian air Force is looking for Rs 1.5 lakh crore deal for manufacturing 114 multirole fighter aircraft which is also seen as a critical step for developing indigenous aerospace ecosystem. IAF is facing the urgent shortage of squadrons which is looking  to replace ageing  MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-27 fighter planes some of which have already been phased out while others are on their way out of service in the next few years.

Further challenges for the newly elected Chief of the Defense Staff are the budget mismatch and ever declining allocation for the Indian Navy. Under the Government’s Strategic Partnership Model, Navy is pursuing the project of P 75 (I) submarines and Naval Utility Helicopters. The Navy's Long Term Capability Plan envisages induction of three Aircraft Carriers, so that two carrier battle groups (CBGs) are available for dispersed deployments in the(Indian ocean region (IOR) at all times. The broad contours of IAC 2, to be constructed in India as a 65,000 tons CATOBAR carrier with electric propulsion have already been planned. The CDS has to navigate through such challenges immediately as the planning for next budget is underway. 

He is from the Gorkha regiment and an alumnus of the St. Edward School, Shimla, the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.