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Abhishek Tyagi asked: Is there any proposal to reform the higher defence organisation in India and create the post of the Chief of Defence Staff?

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  • Rajneesh Singh replies: Reform to the Higher Defence Organisation of India has been a long standing demand of the Services and of the strategic community. In the wake of the Kargil war, the Government of India had constituted the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) to look into the episode of Pakistan’s aggression in the Kargil Sector. The Committee comprised of four members, namely Mr. K. Subrahmanyam (Chairman), Lieutenant General (retd.) K. K. Hazari, Mr. B.G. Verghese and Mr. Satish Chandra, Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and also Member Secretary.

    A Group of Ministers (GOM) was also constituted by the Prime Minister on April 17, 2000 to review the national security system in its entirety and in particular to consider the recommendations of the KRC and formulate specific proposals for implementation. The GOM after initial deliberations decided to address the recommendations of the KRC through four Task Forces, one each in the areas of Intelligence Apparatus, Internal Security, Border Management and Management of Defence. The Task Forces considered not only the recommendations of the KRC falling within their respective competencies, but also other aspects impinging upon national security which were not touched upon by the KRC. Consequent to deliberations and recommendations of the KRC and the GOM, some changes were made to the Higher Defence Organisation, viz. integration of the Service Headquarters with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), establishment of HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and so on. However, one of the major recommendations of the KRC and the GOM was to have an appointment of the CDS. For variety of reasons, the government did not consider it prudent to establish this appointment.

    In 2011, the government convened Naresh Chandra Committee to deliberate on issues concerning national security. The report of the deliberations of the committee has been submitted to the government and presentation on the key recommendations has been made to the National Security Council (NSC). Both the print and electronic media have carried news items regarding its key recommendations. If the media reports are to be believed, the committee has recommended the appointment of the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). The exact details regarding the appointment will only be known once the report is declassified. In all likelihood, the appointment of the CDS may not come through in the near future.

    For more on the subject, refer to the following IDSA publications:

    All essays published in the first issue (vol. 1, Issue 1, 2007) of the Journal of Defence Studies, available at

    Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee: A Midway Solution
    By Rajneesh Singh, August 7, 2012

    A Call for Change: Higher Defence Management in India, IDSA Monograph Series No. 6, 2012, at

    Jointness in Armed Forces and Institution of Post of Chief of Defence Staff are Mutually Exclusive
    By Vinod Patney, Journal of Defence Studies, 2 (1), Summer 2008, at