FAQ | Chief of Defence Staff Appointment: What Are the New Rules?

The Ministry of Defence issued guidelines to expand the eligibility for the post of the Chief of Defence Staff.

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FAQ | Chief of Defence Staff Appointment: What Are the New Rules?

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The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday, 7 June, issued updated guidelines which aim to expand the scope for officers eligible for the post of Chief of Defence Staff of India’s Armed Services.


What did the Ministry of Defence notification say?

In a notification, the ministry said that “The Central Government may, if considered necessary, in public interest, so to do, appoint as Chief of Defence Staff, an officer who is serving as Air Marshal or Air Chief Marshal or an officer who has retired in the rank of Air Marshal or Air Chief Marshal but has not attained the age of sixty-two years on the date of his appointment.”

How is this different from the current guidelines?

The new guidelines now allow a serving lieutenant general or equivalent in the Indian Navy or Air Force to take up the CDS’ post. The guidelines open the door to second-highest ranking active officers of India’s tri-services to hop over their superiors – the chief of army, navy or air force – and occupy the role.

The new guidelines also change the eligibility criteria, allowing recently retired chiefs and vice chiefs to be eligible for the post, with an age ceiling of 62 years at the time of appointment.

Since when has the post of CDS remained vacant?

The CDS post has remained vacant since the demise of General Bipin Rawat , who retired as the Army Chief and subsequently became India’s first CDS, outranking several service chiefs .

An Indian Air Force Mi-17V5 chopper, with General Rawat on board, alongside 13 others – five crew and nine passengers – including his staff and his wife Madhulika Rawat, crashed in Tamil Nadu's Coonoor district at around noon on Wednesday, 8 December.

General Rawat was the 27th Chief of Army Staff before being appointed as the first CDS of the country on 1 January 2020.


What was the initial need for a CDS?

The first suggestion for the creation of a CDS post was by the Kargil Review Committee, which was set up under the Vajpayee Government a few days after India's victory in the 1999 Kargil War.

The committee emphasised on the need to improve the lack of coordination between the country's tri-services.

When was the post officially established?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 20 years after the recommendations were made, announced in his 2019 Independence Day speech that his government had agreed to create a post titled Chief of Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces.

The Cabinet Committee on Security formally announced the post on 24 December 2019, and named the late General Rawat as its first holder.

What does the post entail?

The holder of the post leads the Chiefs of Staff Committee, consisting of the chiefs of the Indian Army, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force. The CDS simultaneously holds several key posts – the secretary of the Department of Military Affairs (that falls within the Defence Ministry), the Principal Advisor to the Defence, etc.

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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