NEW DELHI: India is all set to have a chief of defence staff (CDS) by January as a high-level committee headed by NSA Ajit Doval is wrapping up the groundwork to appoint the single-point military adviser to the government as suggested by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999.
Official sources said the Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force have already recommended to the defence ministry names of their senior-most commanders for the top position which is being created to enhance synergy among the three services in dealing with security challenges facing India.
In a landmark military reform, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 15 announced that India will have the CDS as head of the tri-services.
Days after the prime minister's announcement, an Implementation Committee headed by National Security Adviser Doval was appointed to finalise an enabling framework and determine the exact responsibilities for the CDS.
The committee has completed the groundwork and would come out with the final framework in three weeks, the sources said.
Though the three services have recommended names of their senior-most commanders for the new position, government sources said Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat remains a front-runner for the post. Gen. Rawat is due for retirement on December 31 and top government sources said, if everything goes according to plan, then the government would name him as the country's first CDS before he hangs up his boot.
The sources said the CDS will be a four-star general and will be the first among equals among the service chiefs.
However, in the list of protocol, the CDS will be higher up than the service chiefs.
The main task of the CDS will be to ensure joint manship among the three services which will include powers to work on setting up of few theatre commands as well as to allocate military assets among the services to synergise their operations.
The three services have already put across their views before the Doval-led panel on ways to synergise military operations and their expectations as well as recommendations on what should be the broad contours of the CDS.
"Military reforms is a continuous process and requisite steps are taken by the government from time to time, as deemed necessary," the government told the Parliament on Monday on the issue of CDS.
At present, the three services coordinate their work under the framework of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS).
However, after appointment of the CDS, the IDS would be subsumed into the new structure.
The CDS will also act as a single-point military adviser to the prime minister and defence minister on key defence and strategic issues.
A high-level committee set up to examine the gaps in the country's security system in the wake of the Kargil war in 1999 had called for appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff as a single-point military adviser to the Defence Minister.
A group of ministers analysing required reforms in the national security system had also favoured appointing a Chief of Defence Staff.
In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Task force had recommended creating the post of a permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.