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Old system till new CDS appointed: Gen Naravane as senior-most service chief fills in for Gen Bipin Rawat

Source : India Today

Old system till new CDS appointed: Gen Naravane as senior-most service chief fills in for Gen Bipin Rawat
Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane (File Photo)

After the demise of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, it’s back to the old system for the time-being with the senior-most among the three service chiefs taking the mantle as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee to ensure synergy among the three forces.

Indian Army chief General MM Naravane, being the senior-most, has taken over as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee as was the practice before the office of the CDS came into being. Sources say this is only a stopgap arrangement till the new CDS is appointed. “It is a procedural step that in the absence of a CDS, the senior-most chief takes over as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee,” said an official.

This change was necessitated after General Bipin Rawat along with his wife Madhulika Rawat, his defence assistant Brigadier LS Lidder, staff officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and ten others died in a helicopter crash on December 8 in Coonoor in Tamil Nadu.

The Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC), who used to report to the CDS, will report to General Naravane for the time-being as he heads the Chiefs of Staff Committee by virtue of seniority.

This is exactly what used to happen in the old system before the CDS was appointed.


The Chief of Defence Staff also heads the newly created Department of Military Affairs apart from acting as the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The second senior-most officer in the Department of Military Affairs is an additional secretary, a three star military officer. Currently, the post is held by Lt Gen Anil Puri.

The Department of Military Affairs plays a key role in promoting jointness in procurement, training and staffing of the services through joint planning and integration of their requirements.

Facilitation of restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint and theatre commands, and promoting use of indigenous equipment by the services are also included in the mandate.

While the chiefs continue to head the operations for their respective forces, the CDS has powers on tri-service administrative issues. Additionally, tri-service training, an essential part of jointmanship, is under the office of the CDS and the Department of Military Affairs.

At the time of appointment of the CDS in 2019, the government issued a statement that said, “He will act as the Principal Military Advisor to Raksha Mantri [RM] on all tri-services matters. The three chiefs will continue to advise RM on matters exclusively concerning their respective services. CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three service chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.”

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