In a surprise announcement from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day in August 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared the government’s intention to appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). A committee headed by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval — who also heads the Defence Planning Committee (DPC) — was appointed to work out the modalities and draw up a charter of responsibilities for the CDS. With former Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat having taken over as India’s first CDS, a long-pending gap in the management of higher defence has been fulfilled.
The creation of the post of CDS was a major recommendation of the Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by former deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, that analysed the Kargil Review Committee report. Several analysts have termed this an incomprehensible omission for which three reasons were cited.