The Kargil war identified certain inadequacies in the functioning of our Higher Defence Organisation. Subsequently, the Kargil Review Committee enumerated the need for a thorough review of the national security system and recommended instituting the post of CDS. After the report of the Group of Ministers was submitted, substantial reforms did take place in the armed forces.
The Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (CISC) to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee was appointed on 01 Oct 2001 and HQ Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) was created by a Govt. of India letter dated 23 Nov 2001. The staffs of the erstwhile DG DPS and JS (Mil) were merged with HQ IDS and it started functioning wef 01 Feb 20021. However, in Nov 2005, the present Defence Minister, in Rajya Sabha indicated that a decision regarding the appointment of CDS could only be taken after holding wider consultations with various political parties.
Requirement of CDS and Unified Structures
One of the major lessons of the 1965 and the Kargil War was inadequate joint planning. The reasons cited for this inadequacy were lack of joint structures necessary for operational planning and lack of unity of command in operational and intelligence activities at the national level. There is no doubt that the three services are proficient in the planning and conduct of operational art in their own individual spheres and have acquitted themselves exceptionally well in UN Peacekeeping Operations and exercises with USA, Russia, UK, China and Singapore. however, when it comes to formulation of strategic art and the conduct of joint operational art, there are serious inadequacies. There is no single agency that links all elements of nation-state with military strategy and military strategy with operational art.
The application of force should not be based on individual aspirations of only one service.
The management of national security involves a synergism of varied functions that ranges from evolving a security philosophy and a security strategy to evolving and implementing military strategies, designing and conducting campaigns and ultimately executing combat operations by identified forces. The application of military power needs to be in conformity with the overall national security objectives and in support of the desired end state formulated for specific operations. Without having a clear end state for conflict termination, the campaign planning would meander through various stages of force application before achieving success or failure by hit and trial methods.
However, this would not be an efficient way of applying military power. The stated objectives need to be achieved efficiently with optimal application of appropriate force. It may be possible that the end state could be achieved by the employment of only a single service, at the same time, it may need two or more services or an integrated application of the military forces alongwith all elements of national power. Most contingencies would require a focussed approach by all elements of the state. Thus, there is a need to institute structures that evolve an integrated approach.
The application of force should not be based on individual aspirations of only one service. The strategic decision, the determination of clear military and political end state and the planning for strategic and joint operational art needs an interface between the political establishment, bureaucracy and the armed forces. The Chairman, COSC does not have the institutional backing or the time to conduct this vital function as he wears two hats, one as Chairman, COSC and the other as the Chief of his own service. This function can only be carried out by a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) who is not inhibited by his own service tasks or loyalties and assisted by an integrated operational institutionalised structure.
There is no single agency that links all elements of nation-state with military strategy and military strategy with operational art.
In the present environment, the individual services carry out operational planning at the Command HQ level. The plans rather than being joint, are based on single service appreciations to achieve the stated objectives and overlaying the application of the other service to suit own requirements. Hence the plans are based more on creating a feeling of “mutual co-operation” to achieve strategic objectives rather than based on a jointly appreciated integrated course of action. It is for this reason that more often than not the plans are focussed mainly towards gaining real estate and territorial accretions quickly, as leverage tools rather than to focus on achieving strategic objectives in the most optimal manner, even if it implies employing out of box techniques.
Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC has indicated that joint war fighting is not about fighting the war with equal opportunity but about recognising the unique competencies and capabilities of each arm and service, to make each entity interoperable and utilise the strong points of each service for the combined operational benefit to achieve military objectives2. This is where the crux of operational planning lies.
Eisenhower in a memorandum had earlier written “The many organisations…. cannot possibly operate at maximum efficiency and effectiveness as long as “co-operation” alone dictates their employment, no matter how sincere a purpose may inspire the co-operative effect”3. In a senate hearing later, he further stated that “co-ordination by co-operation is ineffective and in my conviction the only team that could have won the European war was a unified command”4. The Indian working ethos is essentially hierarchical5; unless there is a hierarchical structure that facilitates forcible joint planning, it is difficult to achieve it by co-operation alone. The hierarchical orientation highlights the need for a five star CDS and not a three or a four star as envisaged earlier.
Joint war fighting is not about fighting the war with equal opportunity but about recognising the unique competencies and capabilities of each arm and service.
The future battlefields are likely to be vastly different; they would be non linear, digitised, highly mobile, transparent due to availability of multiple sensors belonging to different services and would possess integrated C4I2.6 The long ranges, of the weapon systems and their inherent overlaps with the operations of platforms and systems belonging to the other two services would entail the requirement of an integrated environment to manage them efficiently and optimally and to reduce the probability of fratricide. Thereby, reiterating the need for a unified structure to create an interoperable integrated environment.