India gets first Chief of Defence Staff after two decades of deliberations
New Delhi: Gen Bipin Rawat on Wednesday took charge as the country's first Chief of Defence Staff in what is seen as a watershed moment for India's military planning to bring in convergence among the three services for effectively dealing with future security challenges.
As CDS, Gen Rawat will be the Principal Military Advisor to the defence minister on all tri-services matters besides helming the newly set up Department of Military Affairs (DMA).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a series of tweets, called the creation of the DMA and institutionalisation of the post of CDS a momentous and comprehensive reform that will help the country face the ever-changing challenges of modern warfare.
Creation of the CDS as single-point military adviser to the government was strongly recommended by the the Kargil Review Committee in 1999.
"This institution carries tremendous responsibility of modernizing our military forces. It would also reflect the hopes and aspirations of 1.3 billion Indians," said Modi.
The CDS will have a key role in ensuring optimum utilisation of allocated budget, ushering in more synergy in procurement, training and operations of the services through joint planning and integration.
The other major mandate of the CDS is to facilitate indigenisation of weapons and equipment to the maximum extent possible while formulating the overall defence acquisition plan for the three Services.
"The CDS is mandated to facilitate integration, ensure best economical use of resources allocated to the armed forces and bring uniformity in the procurement procedure. I want to assure you that the Army, Navy and Air Force will work as a team and the CDS will ensure integration among these," Gen Rawat said.
He was speaking to media after witnessing a tri-services guard of honour outside the headquarters of the Defence Ministry.
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane were present on the occasion.
General Rawat also laid a wreath and paid homage to the martyrs at the National War Memorial.
Former Army Chief Gen (retd) V P Malik called the institutionalisation of the CDS as a much awaited measure to optimise combat power of India's armed forces, adding it will bring about greater jointness, synergy, better civil-military relations.
Gen Rawat was appointed to the post on Monday, a day before he was to retire following a three-year tenure as the Army Chief.
An alumnus of St Edward School, Shimla, and the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Gen Rawat was commissioned into the 11th Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in December 1978.