Chief of defence staff will be reality: army chief

February 25th, 2008 - 4:10 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) The armed forces will get a chief of defence staff (CDS) as a single point reference to advise the government on military matters once the structures to support the institution are in place, says the Indian Army chief. “It is an evolutionary process and it should, therefore, follow, that the CDS must come into existence,” Gen. Deepak Kapoor said in a TV interview.

“The fact that the CDS must come about is not in doubt. What is in doubt is when it should happen,” Kapoor told CNBC-TV18’s Karan Thapar, adding: “The CDS will enable the government to get a one point reference on matters military.”

The creation of a CDS was one of the recommendations of a high-powered committee that examined the conduct of the 1999 border conflict that occurred after Pakistani intruders occupied the heights of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir. The committee felt that a CDS would ensure quicker decisions on matters where the three services were required to act in tandem and to resolve whatever differences might exist on this.

The government accepted the recommendation in 2000 with the caveat that what was first required was the creation of a chief of integrated defence staff (CIDS) to synergise the functioning of the three services. This system has been put into place and is functioning successfully.

According to Kapoor, a CDS “is only one part of the issue. Before that, there will be theatre commands which will be joint commands. Therefore, the integration would have come in at lower levels”.

“It is better the CDS comes into existence once the other structures are in place. A large number of those structures are currently coming into place,” he added.

Asked whether it would be two-three years before a CDS was appointed, the army chief replied: “Maybe it will take longer than two-three years. It depends on how fast we move in putting the structures in place.”

He also agreed that the CDS could be picked from any of the three services.

“The CDS could well be an army, navy or air force man. It’s very much possible and it is perhaps inbuilt into the thought process,” Kapoor contended, in a statement that could put at rest apprehensions amongst the other two services that the army would attempt to monopolise the position.

Answering a question on the shortfall of officers, the army chief said: “The issue is of concern and from whatever measures we have taken, the deficiency levels that were touching 12,000 four to five years ago have dropped to a little over 11,000.

“The fact remains that when a young man completes his (schooling) and looks for avenues outside, he would look at opportunities like engineering, medicine or the corporate sector as he finds all these much more attractive compared to the armed forces,” he added.

In this context, he hoped that the Sixth Pay Commission that is currently examining the pay and perks of government employees would be “positive” toward the armed forces.

“There has been good interaction (with the commission) and even the raksha mantri (Defence Minister A.K. Antony) has met the chairman. They are quite positive and we are hopeful that their recommendations should be positive toward the armed forces.

“Let’s see what comes about finally,” Kapoor added.

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