CDS should be given capital procurements: ex-Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra

Ex-Defence Secretary Mitra bats for more powers to the newly created Chief of Defence Staff

The newly created Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) should be given control over capital procurements of the three Services which remains with the Defence Secretary, said recently retired Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra on Thursday.

Talking of integration in the Defence Ministry, Mr. Mitra said he saw it closely in the run-up to the Balakot air strike in February last year. “When we are in a crisis we do well. It is the peacetime conversations that lead to tensions,” he said speaking at a book launch on civil-military relations in India, The Absent Dialogue, by Dr. Anit Mukherjee, Non Resident Fellow at Brookings India.

“I think capital procurements should go to CDS as military capabilities are the core of the discussions that take place,” Mr. Mitra stated. He added that the CDS had powers over promotions, transfer and awards of all three Services which “is the ultimate power,” and capital acquisition should go to him too.

Former Army Chief Gen. V.P. Malik agreed to this, stating that peace time “we have a lot of problem,” giving the 1999 Kargil conflict as an example. “I had no problem during Kargil. It was the discussion which resulted in the joint strategy,” he added.

On the CDS, he said the CDS had been given a huge task but was “not empowered enough.”

Adverse impact
Speaking about the book, Dr. Mukherjee said India’s civil-military relations had an adverse impact on its military effectiveness. “Defence Ministry is among the least transformed bureaucracies, but the military also requires reform,” he stated.

Gen. Bipin Rawat took over as the country’s first CDS, heading the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and functioning as Secretary in the Defence Ministry.

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