Tri-service military command takes tiny step forward - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 27 June 2014

Tri-service military command takes tiny step forward

Left to right: General Bikram Singh, IDS chief Lt Gen Anil Chait, Defence Secretary RK Mathur, Arun Jaitley, ACM Subir Raha and Admiral Robin Dhowan

By Ajai Shukla
New Delhi

India does not yet have a tri-service military organisation that can effectively coordinate between the army, navy and air force in equipping, manning and planning for battle. But it now has a building for one.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today unveiled the foundation stone for the Headquarters of the Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS), which has functioned since 2001 as a rump organization without real powers. This after two high-power bodies --- the Kargil Review Committee and a Group of Ministers (GoM) --- recommended the appointment of a powerful chief of defence staff (CDS), who would be the top commander over all three services.

This five-star ranked CDS was to oversee the four-star ranked chiefs of the army, navy and air force. He would be a single point of advice to the government on military matters.

With political and bureaucratic opposition to such a powerful post mounting, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government quickly backtracked. Citing the need for “political consultations”, which has been echoed over the last ten years by the United Progressive Alliance, the government set up HQ IDS in Oct 2001, headed by a three-star officer who is junior to the chiefs of the army, navy and air force. With no power to implement joint service decisions, the IDS has remained a relative backwater to which vocal and inconvenient officers can be sidelined.

Meanwhile, the job of tri-service chief --- termed the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, or COSC --- is carried out by the senior-most serving chief. He is expected to play this role in addition to commanding his own service.

The BJP manifesto has undertaken to address the issue of higher military command. So far, however, a permanent defence minister is still awaited.

Speaking at the inauguration, Mr Jaitley declared that in future almost all operations, be they inland or overseas, were invariably going to be tri-service operations. Developing synergy between the services to achieve optimum force application therefore attains utmost importance, he remarked. 


  1. Sir ,

    I have chosen to carry out research as a dissertation on
    " Public Pvt Partnership to provide an impetus to Defence Industry in India"
    at DSSC Wellington under the ageis of Madras University.

    I would be honoured to have a mentor of your stature to guide me through this journey.

    In stage I , we have to submit three subtopics with research problem , statement of problem and a hypothesis by 30 Jun 14.

    I would be grateful , if you can share your email address with me for future reference.

    With warm regards
    Your's truly

  2. It is important to have a CDS. Same time it is necessary to cut number of 3 star officers across all services.

  3. Pentagon inspired complex? If one zooms the pic.

  4. A worthless post which will give some political brass time to have retired life. Bzsically it is the craving by Army and naval brass to have their own Airforce which is the root cause of this demand.

  5. there is only one man up there. The COAS. The rest look like mummy's boys.

  6. Tri-services command in India? Nonsense. They guy on top will only muddle up things, with zero responsibility. In war, even the army Chief is unlikely to have any job. The Bangladesh war was completely controlled by a Chief of Staff of Eastern Command, not even the Eastern army commander!

  7. Where is it going to be located i.e where was the stone laid ?

  8. do we have a new air chief? What happened to arup raha? Looks like his brother subir has taken over


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