A Relook at the Chief of De­fence Staff/ Per­ma­nent Chair­man COSC

The Naresh Chan­dra task force on na­tional se­cu­rity set up by the UPA Govern­ment in June 2012, in its re­port rec­om­mended a per­ma­nent Chair­man of the Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee to ex­er­cise “ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol” over the nu­clear ar­se­nal, head a sep­a­rate jo

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) V.K. KAPOOR

The Naresh Chan­dra task force on na­tional se­cu­rity set up by the UPA Govern­ment in June 2012, in its re­port rec­om­mended a per­ma­nent Chair­man of the Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee.

Lt Gen­eral (Retd) V.K. Kapoor

IN 1999, THE KARGIL Re­view Com­mit­tee headed by the late K. Subrah­manyam had been asked to “re­view the events leading up to the Pak­istani ag­gres­sion in the Kargil District of Ladakh in Jammu & Kash­mir; and, to rec­om­mend such mea­sures as are con­sid­ered nec­es­sary to safe­guard na­tional se­cu­rity against such armed in­tru­sions.” Though it had been given a very nar­row and limited char­ter, the com­mit­tee looked holis­ti­cally at the threats and chal­lenges and ex­am­ined the loop­holes in the man­age­ment of na­tional se­cu­rity. The com­mit­tee was of the view that the “po­lit­i­cal, bu­reau­cratic, mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence es­tab­lish­ments ap­pear to have de­vel­oped a vested in­ter­est in the sta­tus quo.’’ It made far-reach­ing rec­om­men­da­tions on the de­vel­op­ment of In­dia’s nu­clear de­ter­rence, higher de­fence or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­tel­li­gence re­forms, bor­der man­age­ment, the de­fence budget, the use of air power, counter-in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions, in­te­grated man­power pol­icy, de­fence re­search and de­vel­op­ment, and me­dia re­la­tions. The com­mit­tee’s re­port was tabled in Par­lia­ment on Fe­bru­ary 23, 2000.

The Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity (CCS) ap­pointed a Group of Min­is­ters (GoM) to study the Kargil Re­view Com­mit­tee re­port and rec­om­mend mea­sures for im­ple­men­ta­tion. A com­pre­hen­sive sys­temic over­haul of the coun­try’s se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence ap­pa­ra­tus in keep­ing with the tech­no­log­i­cal revo­lu­tion and the need for in­te­grated man­age­ment struc­tures was un­folded by the GoM in a re­port sub­mit­ted by them to the Prime Min­is­ter on Fe­bru­ary 26, 2001. The GoM un­der the Chair­man­ship of L.K. Ad­vani also in­cluded the De­fence Min­is­ter, Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter and Fi­nance Min­is­ter. The GoM held 27 meet­ings in all. In or­der to fa­cil­i­tate its work, it had set up four task forces one each on In­tel­li­gence Ap­pa­ra­tus, In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity, Bor­der Man­age­ment and Man­age­ment of De­fence. These task forces were mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary in char­ac­ter and were made up of ac­knowl­edged ex­perts.

Arun Singh Com­mit­tee on De­fence Ex­pen­di­ture

The Arun Singh Com­mit­tee on De­fence Ex­pen­di­ture rec­om­mended the cre­ation of the Chief of De­fence Staff (CDS) post since the ex­ist­ing sys­tem of Chair­man Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee (COSC) had not been able to deliver on im­por­tant is­sues. The com­mit­tee rec­om­mended that the CDS should be cre­ated for car­ry­ing out four main func­tions: Pro­vid­ing sin­gle-point mil­i­tary ad­vice Ad­min­is­ter strate­gic forces. En­sur­ing joint­ness in the armed forces. En­hance plan­ning process through in­ter­ser­vice co­or­di­na­tion and pri­ori­tis­ing. The CCS con­sid­ered the GoM re­port on 11th May, 2001 and ac­cepted all rec­om­men­da­tions con­tained in the GoM re­port ex­cept that of the cre­ation of a CDS. It seems that there was op­po­si­tion to cre­ation of the CDS both from within the armed forces as well as by the politico-bu­reau­cratic com­bine. While some in the mil­i­tary felt their iden­tity might get swamped, bu­reau­cratic re­sis­tance stemmed from the feel­ing that the CDS may be­come more pow­er­ful than the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary. The po­lit­i­cal hi­er­ar­chy, mean­while, felt ap­pre­hen­sive about too much power vested in one per­son. As a re­sult, while a ma­jor­ity of the rec­om­men­da­tions were im­ple­mented, in­clud­ing the cre­ation of a fullfledged of­fice of the in­te­grated de­fence staff com­pris­ing al­most 200 of­fi­cers, its head, the CDS, has not been put in place till date. Lack of po­lit­i­cal con­sen­sus on the is­sue has been cited as the rea­son for non-im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee

Naresh Chan­dra Com­mit­tee, a 14-mem­ber task force on na­tional se­cu­rity, was set up by the UPA Govern­ment on June 21, 2012, to sug­gest ways to re­vamp of de­fence man­age­ment in the coun­try. The rea­sons can be at­trib­uted to the large num­ber of le­gal com­plaints in the var­i­ous courts against the MoD on pay and al­lowances dis­crep­an­cies, de­fence pro­cure­ment scams and the threat per­cep­tion from our ad­ver­saries China and Pak­istan. The main ob­jec­tive be­hind the con­sti­tu­tion of the com­mit­tee was to con­tem­po­rise the Kargil Re­view Com­mit­tee’s Re­port, which was tabled in the Par­lia­ment on Fe­bru­ary 23, 2000. Be­sides, the task force was also asked to ex­am­ine the state of coun­try’s bor­der man­age­ment. The Com­mit­tee sub­mit­ted its re­port to the govern­ment on Au­gust 8, 2013. The 14-mem­ber Naresh Chan­dra task force on na­tional se­cu­rity, in its re­port rec­om­mended a per­ma­nent chair­man of COSC to ex­er­cise “ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol” over the nu­clear ar­se­nal, head a sep­a­rate joint spe­cial forces com­mand, pri­ori­tise mod­erni­sa­tion of the armed forces and pre­pare an­nual de­fence op­er­a­tional sta­tus re­ports.

Per­ma­nent Chair­man of COSC

Cur­rently the COSC is a fo­rum for ser­vice chiefs to dis­cuss mat­ters hav­ing a bear­ing on the ac­tiv­i­ties of ser­vices and to ad­vise the min­istry. Its mem­bers in­clude Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), and Chief of In­te­grated De­fence Staff (CISC) who is a non-voting mem­ber. The po­si­tion of chair­man de­volves on the long­est serv­ing Chief of Staff and ro­tates amongst the chiefs of the three ser­vices. How­ever, it has no pow­ers to take any strate­gic or ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ci­sion.

The per­ma­nent Chair­man COSC, a fourstar gen­eral like the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs who cur­rently con­sti­tute the panel, was to also be an “in­vi­tee” to the Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity and the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (NSC) as well as ad­vise the De­fence Min­is­ter on all mat­ters con­cern­ing two or more Ser­vices.

Just as the the politico-bu­reau­cratic com­bine had scut­tled the rec­om­men­da­tion for a CDS af­ter the 1999 Kargil con­flict, the De­fence Min­istry has ex­pressed ma­jor reser­va­tions against the fresh pro­posal for a per­ma­nent COSC Chair­man as rec­om­mended by the Com­mit­tee. Sources said the MoD, in its com­ments to the NSC Sec­re­tariat un­der the PMO, vir­tu­ally re­jected the cre­ation of a per­ma­nent Chair­man COSC post as well as some other “crit­i­cal re­forms” des­per­ately needed to re­form the coun­try’s higher de­fence man­age­ment that were sug­gested by the Naresh Chan­dra task force.

The Way Ahead

The new govern­ment should ac­cord pri­or­ity to cre­at­ing a per­ma­nent Chair­man of the COSC. Mod­ern war­fare de­mands true op­er­a­tional in­te­gra­tion of the three ser­vices to win wars in the fu­ture and this is not go­ing to come about through the type of “joint­man­ship” be­ing prac­tised at present. It will re­quire po­lit­i­cal will to com­pel the ser­vices to be truly joint in their plan­ning and con­duct of fu­ture wars. This will de­mand some rad­i­cal changes at the higher op­er­a­tional lev­els and the Chair­man with the pow­ers vested in him by the govern­ment could set the ball rolling. This will not only en­sure op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency but will also be cost ef­fec­tive. The Per­ma­nent Chair­man COSC by virtue of his ap­point­ment will have no al­le­giance to any ser­vice and must be given the sta­tus to im­ple­ment the po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tions in this re­gard. There­fore he will have to be the first among the “equals”.

With fi­nite cap­i­tal bud­gets it is im­per­a­tive that the cap­i­tal budget be pri­ori­tised to ac­quire ca­pa­bil­i­ties for the armed forces and not merely add new weapon sys­tems to the in­ven­tory of each ser­vice. By a thor­ough pro­fes­sional au­dit we will avoid du­pli­ca­tion in ac­quir­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Some of the roles that may be given to the per­ma­nent Chair­man COSC are as un­der: Ex­er­cise “ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol” over the nu­clear ar­se­nal, Head a sep­a­rate joint Spe­cial Forces Com­mand. En­sure joint­ness in the armed forces. Ex­er­cise ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trol over all joint ser­vices com­mands such as the An­daman and Ni­co­bar Com­mand; Strate­gic Forces Com­mand; Cy­ber Com­mand (when cre­ated); Aero­space Com­mand (when cre­ated). Pri­ori­tise al­lo­ca­tion of cap­i­tal bud­gets for ac­quir­ing vi­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties for the armed forces. Pre­pare an­nual de­fence op­er­a­tional sta­tus re­ports. Will be an “in­vi­tee” to the Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity and the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil as well as ad­vise the De­fence Min­is­ter on all mat­ters con­cern­ing two or more Ser­vices.

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