Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma on Tuesday called for making a permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) to increase jointness amongst the three services, instead of setting up a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as suggested by the Kargil Review Committee nearly 10 years ago.
The Kargil Review Committee had suggested setting up of Chief of Defence Staff as the single source of advice for the Defence Minister and the Prime Minister. The CDS was envisaged to be over and above the three service chiefs to increase efficiency during times of crises.
However, due to inter-service rivalries the institution did not see the light of the day, instead a CoSC was set up wherein the senior most service chief amongst the three takes over as the chairman of the committee.
“Permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee will give more jointness to the services. Presently dual-hatting of service chief is making it difficult to devote the kind of time required for it,” Verma told reporters during his last press conference as the Navy Chief. He will be retiring on August 31. The recently appointed committee led by former cabinet secretary Naresh Chandra lamented that despite the service chiefs and the highly specialised Service Head Quarters’ staff being at their disposal for advice in the management of national security the political establishment is totally relying on the feedback of Defence Ministry civil servants, drawn from diverse backgrounds. In its report the committee is said to have endorsed a permanent Chairman CoSC.
The present system of Chairman CoSC is not working well. As the senior-most among the three Chiefs take over as CoSC Chairman he is at the helm of affairs to 20 months depending on his residual service.
“The tenure is very truncated and you cannot deliver because service responsibility also weights on you. Permanent CoSC will take the efforts towards jointness in the right direction,” the Admiral said.
The Naresh Chandra committee report has also talked about the Armed Forces being excluded from the apex structure and having little access to political establishment making crucial national security decisions.
Many defence analysts like former Navy Chief Admiral Arun Prakash have been emphasising on the “criticality” of a first among the three service chiefs as India inches towards completing its nuclear triad and acquiring strategic weapons.