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Integrated Defence Staff

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to fulfil the demand for a chief of defence staff (CDS) during an address to the nation on India’s Independence Day. The creation of a CDS comes around 19 years after a high level committee set up to review the Kargil War with Pakistan recommended it. The Indian government has formally announced the decision to appoint a chief of defence staff for the country, a four-star post with a salary equivalent to the service chiefs to lead the newly created department of military affairs of the country.

“CDS will head the Department of Military Affairs which to be created under Ministry of Defence and will function as its Secretary”, India’s federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Jawadekar announced on 24 December 2019 after a meeting of the federal Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government said that the CDS shall pursue the armed forces' objectives for better effectiveness in a dynamic security requirement. “Facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about integration in operations, including through establishment of joint/ theatre commands”.

The Western and the Eastern Command of the Indian Navy will be merged into a single command, to be called the Peninsular Command, and theatre commands will be rolled out by 2022, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat said 17 February 2020 as he outlined his military vision for India. “Our plan is to create a Peninsula Command with the merger of Navy’s Eastern and Western Command. The area of the command is planned to start from Sir Creek area in west and Sunderbans in east and downwards,” he said

In October 2018, the India's Cabinet Committee on Security approved the establishment of three agencies, namely, the Defense Cyber Agency, the Defense Space Agency and the Special Operations Command, all of which will function under the command of the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff to deal with space, cyberspace and special operations and will enhance more synergies, resource saving and sharing. This move has been a significant step forward for India in meeting with new threats.

Apart from establishing the special operations division, the Indian military has also approved the establishment of a cyber defense agency commanded by a Rear Admiral, and a space warfare agency led by an Air Vice-Marshal, both of which are integral parts of the joint command of Indian three services under direct command of the Joint Defense Staff of India, presumably the “first move” for the Indian military to build the “emerging trinity” joint operational system.

Soon after assuming charge as Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat held a meeting with important functionaries of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (Hq IDS) on January 1, 2020.Wishing them all a Happy New Year, General Rawat directed various branch heads to come up with recommendations for inter-service synergy and jointness in a time bound manner.

The CDS also directed that a proposal to create Air Defence Command be prepared by June 30, 2020. He also set out priorities for execution of synergy by June30 and December, 31 2020. Some of the areas identified for jointness and synergy include creation of common logistics support pools in stations where two or more services have their presence. Emphasising collegiate system of functioning, General Rawat directed that all three services and Coast Guard must be consulted and their views obtained in a time bound manner. Decisions will, however, be taken to ensure optimisation of resources. Efforts will be made to cut out infructuous ceremonial activities, which are manpower intensive. The CDS stressed that all must work towards accomplishing desired results and comingup with healthy views and ideas.

The Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) was appointed on 01 Oct 2001 and HQ IDS was created by a Government letter of 23 Nov 2001. To start with, the staff of the erstwhile Director General, Defence Planning Staff (DG, DPS) and the Joint Secretary (Military Wing) (JS (Mil)) was merged with the newly created HQ. Other staff started getting posted in only in January 2002. Notwithstanding the shortage/absence of staff, the HQ started functioning in earnest with effect from 01 Feb 2002.

In 1947, very few Indians had first-hand knowledge or experience of higher defence organisation and administration. Pakistan inspired invasion of Kashmir forced the pace of evolution of such an organisation. A number of committees came into existence to advise the Government and the Defence Minister on defence problems, the main one being the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which was supported by other committees like the Defence Minister's Committee (DMC), the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) and the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).

In subsequent years, following the ceasefire in Kashmir and India's adherence to a policy of peace and non-alignment, most of the committees became defunct, their functions being combined. After the war with the Chinese in 1962, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet was replaced by the Emergency Committee of the Cabinet - the latter excluded the attendance of Service Chiefs and the Defence Secretary unlike the former. The DMC was revamped to include scrutiny of operational developments and overseeing of defence preparedness. A number of other committees came into being to expedite the defence build-up. However, as the imminence of Chinese threat receded, most of these committees again became defunct.

In order to ensure the smooth functioning of the Higher Defence Organisation, a Military Wing was created in the Cabinet Secretariat from 01 Nov 1947. However, after deliberations, the Military Wing was later placed under the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The MOD (Mil Wing) was headed by Joint Secretary (Military) held in rotation between the three Services by an officer of the rank of Maj Gen/equivalent. The JS (Mil) reported direct to the Defence Secretary.

Defence planning comprises not only operational planning but also important planning for force levels, organising and equipping of the armed forces; all these aspects are inter-related and inter-dependent. Contingency operational planning apart, all defence planning has to be on a steady long term basis; firstly, so that not only is the current security threat catered for, but also the foreseeable future threats; secondly to ensure that a proper balance is maintained between economic development and defence plans.

In the post-independence years, prior to 1964, defence planning was done on a annual basis. The first 6-year Defence Plan was formulated in 1964; it was, however, no more than a sum total of estimated yearly budgets for the next five years. The 1969-74 Defence Plan took into account long-term forecast of requirements of defence system as a whole, within the framework of national resources. This was followed by the 1970-75 roll-on plan, which permitted a carry forward of fund allocations, expenditure and targets from one year to the next, within the plan period. The events of 1971, however, overtook the assumptions made and thus immediate imperatives had to take precedence over long term concepts, and priorities changed.

In 1973-74, a high level planning group was set-up under the Minister of Planning to consider the Defence Plan 1974-79, the fundamental approach being to review the plan objectives against a high level assessment of threat and then relating them to the National Development Plan, thus ensuring intimate complementary relation between defence and development.

A high level inter-service Defence Planning Staff (DPS) under the Ministry of Defence was created in 1986 to assist the COSC. It had senior inter-service staff along with senior representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Defence (Finance), Ministry of External Affairs and a senior scientist from the DRDO. The DPS was made responsible for preparation of coordinated perspective defence plans based on projections received from the Perspective Planning Directorates in the Service Headquarters, Department of Defence Production and Supplies and the DRDO. The DPS was to undertake periodic threat assessment to evolve a mix of force levels and weaponry to integrate the requirements of the three services to meet the threat. The DPS was also to undertake studies on the regions of our military interests to ensure that defence plans were oriented towards threats which the country would face during the next decade and to ensure integrated capability to meet the threats optimally within the resources available to the country. The organization of the DG DPS was merged into the Integrated Staff on formation of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff.

After the Kargil Conflict, the Government constituted the Kargil Review Committee to carry out an in-depth review and analysis of Security Management System in the country. The recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee were considered by the Group of Ministers which made specific proposals for implementation based on the analysis carried out by four task forces. Based on the recommendations of the Group of Ministers, the Integrated Defence Staff was set up vide Government of India, Ministry of Defence letter number MoD/IC/1027/32/IDS/5843/2001 dated 23 November 2001.

The Headquarters of the Integrated Defence Staff is located in New Delhi. The CISC, his secretariat, and certain other components are located in South Block. The major portion of the Headquarters is located in Kashmir House. The headquarters is staffed by officers and personnel from the three Services, the Ministry of External Affairs/Indian Foreign Service, Defence Finance/Defence Accounts Department, Department of Defence (Ministry of Defence) and the Department of Defence Research and Development (Ministry of Defence).

One of the most important responsibilities of the Branch pertains to the acquisition process. Under the new acquisition system the Deputy Chief of IDS who is the head of this Branch is the ex-officio Member Secretary of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which is chaired by the Raksha Mantri (RM) with the Service Chiefs, Secretaries in the MOD and CISC as its members. This involves preparation of tri-service 15 years' Long-Term Perspective Plan (LTPP) and preparation of prioritised tri-service five years' plan. Out of these we are now in the process of formulating the LTPP, or rather coordinating the effort of the three services. As can be appreciated, this document can, at best be speculative in nature. This is more so since none of the services have indulged in this exercise in the past in a serious manner and to which they had a commitment. The LTPP is not intended to be a prescriptive document since it involves much larger issues of national strategy, foreign policy, economic development and so on.

In the first DAC meeting held on 28 May 02 the question of participation of private industry was also discussed. HQ IDS was tasked to study the question in greater detail. Accordingly, a study team was constituted under a two star ranked officer to go into various connected issues. The team interacted with various agencies of the Government and private industry.

The other major initiative taken by us is in the field of interaction with the DRDO. The DG, DPS had produced a document early last year entitled "Strategic and Technological Environment Assessment". This document was somewhat unilateral in that the DRDO had not officially endorsed it. Now with the SA to RM and the Secretary DDP&S required to endorse the categorisation of every capital procurement proposal as either 'make,' 'buy and make,' or 'buy' proposal before the DAC gave its acceptance in principle, it became necessary to involve them in the preparation of the LTPP and the five years' plan also.

The DCIDS (Intelligence) is a double-hatted officer who also has the designation of DG, DIA and was appointed in the first week of March 2002. Within a short period of three months, the Branch organised itself and started producing outputs by July. It has taken under its wing and in their entirety the erstwhile DIPAC and the Additional Directorate General of Signal Intelligence. Both the latter continue to immediately pass on to the service intelligence directorates any information that may be of interest to them. In addition, the affairs of the defence attaches working in Delhi as also attaches and defence advisers concurrently report to the DG, DIA. The DIA is fully operational now and coordination between various intelligence organs of the State has improved, including between the various Services Intelligence Directorates.




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