New CDS: Issues & Concerns

"I am of the opinion that the post of CDS be done away with if it has to continue in its present shape. CDS must not be a government secretary but an overlord of all security forces."

New CDS: Issues & Concerns

An armed forces officer’s allegiance is to the Constitution of India. This is the oath he takes before his commissioning. His allegiance is not to a political ideology or a political party. It is therefore futile to think where his loyalty should be, whether a Colonel or a General or even a CDS. What is more important is to know what was the purpose of the creation of this post of CDS. Certainly, it was not a ceremonial post or a decorative piece.  

Now, the question arises if the creation of the post of CDS was in consonance with the role and functions envisioned? Did we expect the CDS to be another Babu? Is that the legacy of the first CDS?

I am of the opinion that the post of CDS be done away with, if it has to continue in its present shape. CDS must not be a government secretary but an overlord of all security forces, PMF (Paramilitary forces) included. He should be responsible for both internal and external security and should have a free hand in this regard.

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In doing so, internal security is separated from the law & order problem, which is a state subject. It is because of this confusion that CRPF is suffering huge fatalities in MP, Jharkhand and  Chhattisgarh. There is a lack of standardisation of drills and procedures. Resources are not being utilised to their fullest potential. Inter-state coordination is the biggest casualty .  

Internal security should include not only insurgency/militancy and terrorism but also mass agitations such as road blocks etc. Along  with this, AFSPA -1958 ought to be replaced by a more comprehensive Combat Zone Act (COZA). AFSPA has outlived its utility. CDS should be looking for such provisions to provide full proof protection to soldiers deployed in such “disturbed areas”. Once an area is declared disturbed area, the writ of security forces is final. Only HC/SC should have the jurisdiction to intervene and not local court.

CDS has to be proactive on matters of national security. His words must carry the weight, if not be the final word. Was this the legacy of the late CDS? I am afraid of a big “NO”. His legacy was of a “Paper Tiger”. Therefore there was no need to have a CDS if he had to function like a bureaucrat. In fact, it was nothing more than a “Soldier without his Weapon”.

The late CDS failed to implement “theatrisation of armed forces” because he had no control over the three services. What is the use of such a post, whose subordinates do not listen? To say that he was “first among the equals” shows the impotence of this much hyped appointment.

The real legacy of the last CDS was to preside over the impotency of the security forces in matters of national security. This impotent post was created in line with the Nehruvian apprehensions by politicians of a likely “military coup” by Armed Forces. This was the reason that internal security was placed under the ambit of the Home Ministry. Of course bureaucracy had a big hand in scaling down the desired role and functions of an effective CDS. The big bang way of creation of this post turned out to be a damp squib.

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In the final analysis, the legacy of the last CDS was a compromised position. The task before the new CDS, if appointed, should be to acquire the powers befitting the Chief of all security forces, engaged in both internal and external security. His writ should run across BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB, CISF, Assam Rifles and all such agencies employed for national security.

There is a need to appoint zonal CDS or a deputy CDS for East, West, Centre, North and South zones. National security must get proper attention. It must not be handled by immature people and apprentices. In fact, words of Alvin Toffler from his book “War and Anti-war” are worth quoting in conclusion of my comments :—

“If war was ever too serious a business to be left alone to the Generals, it is all the more  serious to leave it to the uninitiated, unconcerned and unaware, whether in uniform or without”.

About The Author

Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in  ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as  ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected]

(Views expressed are the author's own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')

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