Military & Aerospace

Permanent Chairman COSC – cementing Parkinson’s in defence
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Issue Net Edition | Date : 24 Jul , 2015

Media reports that the proposal to create the new post of a Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) is at “an advanced stage of planning” now, albeit this has to be ultimately approved by the Union Cabinet since “the issues involved are very complex”. Reminds one of the OROP issue being at an ‘advanced stage’ and the time being taken to arrive at the endemic inter-ministerial wrangling despite the definition of OROP having been accepted by two Parliaments in the past and the Indian Railways, as large as the Indian Army, availing past several years the benefit of future increases after initial fixation of pension automatically passed on to past pensioners so as to bridge the gap between the rate of pension of the current pensioners and the past pensioners, even though the nomenclature of OROP is not used.

…the military has been kept away from the strategic planning on matters military. This is why despite hosts of defence scams, no MoD bureaucrat has ever been questioned leave aside prosecuted.

There is little concern how this delay affects the serving soldiers (with some 70,000 retiring annually) watching the pan-India protests on TV, mobiles, Whatsapp etc. It is a clear case of the image of the Prime Minister being sullied from within without him realizing it. Yes, the government is under Contempt of Court if OROP is not implemented by 31 July 2015 but then multiple contempt of court on multiple issues perhaps provide immunity under ‘double jeopardy to what has been dubbed as the Ministry of Default (MoD). But this is about the Permanent Chairman (PC) COSC with media reporting that in creating the post of the PC COSC, the three Service Chiefs will be left operationally-independent to run their own services.

It was on September 8, 2005, that then Defence Minister (now President) Pranab Mukherjee at the end of a presentation on RMA asked the present Chairman COSC & Naval Chief, the Army Chief and the Officiating Air Chief their views whether we needed a CDS. All three unequivocally voiced that not only was a CDS necessary but the CDS must be given full operational powers over the military, in order to make him effective. Mukherjee then said, “It would surprise you to know that in the recent past the government had actually decided who would be CDS, but then there was no political consensus”, adding “But there is no political consensus over a thousand issues but are pushed through, and it does not mean the CDS will not come through”. That was 10 years back but much water, mostly dirty, has flown under the bridge since then.

Under the erstwhile NDA government, Defence Minister George Fernandes created the HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), which was to be integral to the MoD. However, despite his announcing so, HQ IDS came up akin to a separate Service HQ. The bureaucracy ensured this integration did not take place, major reason being money, corruption and continuing bureaucratic bliss of enjoying authority sans responsibility. We have the arms mafia, with its foreign links, that funds all political parties in India for elections. This mafia has been orchestrating the dismal state of our defence including the defence-industrial complex. That is why the military has been kept away from the strategic planning on matters military. This is why despite hosts of defence scams, no MoD bureaucrat has ever been questioned leave aside prosecuted. Haschke’s diary mentioning appointments in MoD that benefited in the Westland VVIP Helicopter Scam too was ignored. The Tatra scam is buried because it cuts across party lines.

The mafia manouvres public perception through presstitutes that all is well but how many know: Defence Secretary, not Defence Minister is officially responsible for defence of India…

The mafia manouvres public perception through presstitutes that all is well but how many know: Defence Secretary, not Defence Minister is officially responsible for defence of India, because of which successive governments have used the latter for beefing up party and individual coffers; the Services HQ are “attached offices” of MoD, providing infinite unaccountability to MoD bureaucrats who have little understanding of matters military; serving military officers are deliberately kept out of MoD and the DRDO-OF-DPSUs nexus to shield corruption and money-making, whereas military being users should be at the designing, planning and decision making levels; no comprehensive defence review has been conducted and we are sans a national security strategy; the world has been witnessing sub-conventional wars but we don’t acknowledge strategic importance of irregular forces and have failed to establish requisite deterrence; never has a Defence Minister or MoS Defence been permitted who had military background; the ‘Make in India’ hype is being used to obfuscate the fact that this is only one part of defence; despite the present government being in power for more than one year, no initiative has been taken on any of the aforementioned issues; even Make in India, by admission of Parrikar himself, cannot be facilitated by the existing Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) and the new DPP that should have been introduced within three months of announcing ‘Make in India’ is still couple of months away.

The joke circulating is that till the presidential pardon of the turkey that feeds on imported feed and lays golden eggs is revoked, not much improvement in defence is likely. In fact, advisors being from or linked to the mafia would like to replace ‘Jai Jawan’ with the slogan ‘Jai Dookan’.

General VP Malik as Army Chief had said, “It is not my case that the Service Chiefs do not cooperate in war. Were they not to do so, it would be churlish. But in war cooperative synergies are simply not good enough.” Much later, another Army Chief stated during the Unified Commanders Conference that the Services had very good synergy since all three chief played golf together once a month followed by breakfast. Not much has changed since and changes made are largely cosmetic, even though the establishment of HQ IDS was hailed as a major step. Amidst the hype of a Digitized Military, the military does not even have common data structures, symbology and interoperable protocols. Radio communications are not interoperable to desired degree and radio sets differ in frequency bands, wave forms and secrecy algorithms. There is absence of knowledge management and a common unifying secrecy algorithm for the Services hasn’t been developed though technological solutions exist. No common enterprise GIS has yet been developed either.

The whole concept of HQ IDS was based on its complete integration with the MoD which has been sidelined.

The Defence Intelligence Agency is the central repository for all intelligence inputs pertaining to the three Services including Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), however we are yet to integrate the aspects of topography with the DIA. Within the existing setup, adequate resources in terms of remote sensing, ELINT payloads and cartography are not available to produce high quality fused data. Similarly, much more is required at the national level in terms of integration of various government agencies. Military Survey is some 30 years behind in meeting even existing routine mapping requirements of the Military, whereas Large Scale Mapping requirements of say 1:5,000 and below is practically not being met at all. Technology, policies, standards and resources are necessary to acquire, process, store, distribute and improve utilization of geospatial data for military purposes. The need to establish a Defence Spatial Data Infrastructure (DSDI) is not even being talked about. Project Defence Communications Network (DCN) hailed as project to usher integration, does ‘not’ include development of common software.

The PC COSC is the watered down version of the CDS. The CDS had been strongly recommended by successive committees including the Kargil Review Committee headed by K Subramanyan and the follow up GoM report. While the CDS never came through, the mafia had already catered to neutralize the CDS.  The term PC COSC, a bureaucratic googly, came out of the blues when then NSA Shiv Shankar Menon reportedly briefed Naresh Chandra before assigning him the Naresh Chandra Committee, to make such recommendation. The government may tell you that the PC COSC would be the single point military advisor to the government but the fact is that PC COSC will be no more than another embellishment as far as MoD is concerned.

The document dealing with CDS was so craftily drafted by the bureaucracy that the CDS, leave aside the PC COSC, really will hardly ever be a single point advisor. The document says that as and when a CDS is appointed, he will have equal voting rights as Service Chiefs and in case of disagreement by two Service Chiefs, arbitration will be done by MoD. We never have dissent notes by Army Commanders and equivalent within the three Services, so why this provision in case of CDS ? If there are differences of opinion, these are for discussion within the military (as done by Service Chiefs in respective Service) but eventually one single case is sent up. It is time the bureaucracy sheds its policy of divide and rule or the political authority kicks them into shedding it.

The bottom line is that the appointment of a PC COSC is a win-win situation for the arms mafia and the mafia, not for the defence of India.

The whole concept of HQ IDS was based on its complete integration with the MoD which has been sidelined. If the government is serious about national security and synergy both at the national and military levels, it should appoint a CDS with full operational powers and restructure the MoD and HQ IDS, merging them completely and institutionalizing their interfaces with MEA and MHA. Without operational powers over the military, to expect the PC COSC to synergize the military will remain a pipe dream irrespective of whether Chairman COSC is rotational or permanent. The myth being spread through the media that the Permanent Chairman will provide single-point military advice to the government, inject synergy among the Services, integrate Services HQ and manage country’s strategic resources and nuclear arsenal are all misleading.

The Strategic Forces Command managing the country’s strategic resources and nuclear arsenal has long since quietly been taken away from the ambit of the COSC and put under the NSA – another devious move of the bureaucracy. The bottom line is that the appointment of a PC COSC is a win-win situation for the arms mafia and the mafia, not for the defence of India. The government would do well to reflect on the above keeping in mind the rapidly expanding threats to our security.

Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

is a former Lt Gen Special Forces, Indian Army

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left

4 thoughts on “Permanent Chairman COSC – cementing Parkinson’s in defence

  1. THE GENERALS , MARSHALS AND ADMIRALS WITH THEIR TUNNELLED AND FUNNELED VISIONS HAVE TRIED STATUS QUO , THE SERVICES THEMSELVES ARE NOT INTEGRATED IN ANY FORM EXCEPT A FEW JOINT TRAINING ESTABLISHMENTS . THE POLITICAL ELITE , BABUS OF MOD FINANCE AND FOREIGN SERVICE AND CONNIVING RANKS HAVE THE 250000 CRORES BUDGET WHERE 30 TO 50000 CRORES IS SKIMMED BY THE POLITICAL PARTY ,3 PERCENT FOR BABUS AND PEANUTS FOR THE COLLABORATING UNIFORMED RANKS . THE SYSTEM FEEDS THE PUBLIC PARASITES IN RICH DELHI NOIDA AND GURGOAN POSH COLONIES WHERE ARMED DALALS COMPROMISE ALL INCLUDING PRESTITUDES , CAGS , CVC , POLICE AND INTELLIGENCE STAFF WITH THE NETWORK SPREAD FAR AND WIDE WITHIN THE COUNTRY AND RETD BABUS AND SERVICE HAUNCHOS SITTING ING IN MOSCOW , PARIS , LONDON , DUBAI , WASHINGTON NEWYORK , AND EUROPEON CAPITALS

  2. perhaps entirely new ranks and rank insignia that are common across an integrated National Defence Force. that is stitched together from the point of view of addressing threat perception in the best way (efficiency, effectiveness and bang for the buck) without legacy notions of air, sea, land, special, less special, elite, not so elite, threat to civilian rights to theft of national assets and so on.

  3. Dear Mr Katoch,

    Even the American military, the most powerful one on the planet, has a Chairman of JCS which is not a CDS. American Chairman is also a four star, staff appointment and as far as can be seen, the jointness has been quite successful in the US forces so far. Even in America, a service chief can disagree and direct his advice directly to the President of the USA, however, CJCS has power to add his opinion with it to the POTUS. The entire idea for this mechanism, which emerged after experiments in jointness since 1942, was to make sure that one person doesn’t get immense power without accountability.

    So stop fooling around. CDS is good for Pakistani type military. India needs only a Chief Military Advisor for which PC-COSC is good enough.

  4. Parkinson’s principle in the Armed Forces is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease in the Neta-Babu-Cop-Milard-Crony-Preferred Caste, Religion, Tribe Kleptocracy of India. None of these cosmetics, jugglery, political compromises, and attempts at pulling the wool over everybody’s eyes will work. We need a re engineering of the Armed Forces, perhaps entirely new ranks and rank insignia that are common across an integrated National Defence Force. that is stitched together from the point of view of addressing threat perception in the best way (efficiency, effectiveness and bang for the buck) without legacy notions of air, sea, land, special, less special, elite, not so elite, threat to civilian rights to theft of national assets and so on.

More Comments Loader Loading Comments