Challenges before the new CDS and the road ahead

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The Central government has appointed Lt. Gen. Anil Chauhan (retired) as the new CDS to succeed General Bipin Rawat. He will also function as Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Military Affairs. General Anil Chauhan is highly qualified, experienced and well decorated infantry officer from 11 Gorkha Rifles. Incidentally, General Bipin Rawat was also from Gorkha Rifles. General Chauhan has vast experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu & Kashmir and North-East India. He has served as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command from September 2019 and held the charge until his retirement from the service in May 2021. In addition to field experience, he has also served as Director General of Military Operations as well as also served as a United Nations mission to Angola. The untimely demise of first CDS General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash on 8 December 2021 has been a major setback to the process of reforms of the three services. Among the burning challenges before CDS General Chauhan are the need to not only carry forward the process of modern hybrid warfare policy, restructuring and integration of the three services, but to have an overall, comprehensive and holistic assessment of the futuristic need of weaponry systems, military operations and problems arising out of the Russia-Ukraine war instead of the traditional war system of Indian security system. The Russia-Ukraine war has further highlighted the fact that future wars will not only be based on military operations, but economic interests of the country. Restrictions on banking systems, cyber attacks on information systems, and dominance in the space sector will be an essential and integrated part of military operations policy. Just as drones and missiles are used to neutralize important institutions and slow-moving large-sized tanks, artillery guns, helicopters, warships, ammunition, weapons, logistics and healthcare by attacking them is also a matter of serious concern. Based on the changing strategic and technical perspective and these assessments, it is certain that potential wars in the future cannot be fought only on the basis of experiences and structures of wars fought in the past but surveillance, interceptive counter offensive attack on cyber threats, space dominance, artificial intelligence, unmanned robotic systems and capability for deterrence and swift action against biological warfare will be very crucial factors.
India’s credibility in the international arena has been established as an emerging superpower in the areas of economic, strategic, space and information technology, but also the new CD questions arising from China’s increasingly aggressive economic and expansionist activities in the Asia Pacific region and South Asia. Our geographical boundaries and the Indian Ocean, especially in Sri Lanka and Maldives, are no less than odd challenges for the new CDS. Similarly, the possible alliance of China, Pakistan and the Taliban has also emerged as a continuous and serious challenge to our security apparatus. In the light of the above facts, the CDS has a great responsibility to streamline the combined and modern warfare systems between the three services in a time-bound manner by 2023 to create a symbiotic relationship between the three services, integration of civil and military technical efforts and internal and external security.
One of the most important requirements in the process of synergy among the three services and the integration and integration between their various organizations, is to shape the present and future generations of military personnel in accordance to the ethos of future integration so that they can abandon their traditional thought processes and welcome appropriate changes for jointness and integration between the services themselves and are also coordinating with other ministries required for modern wars.
Military operations and warfare policy need to be transformed into a fast forward and multi-pronged aggressive policy. The powerful Air Force is very important for operations and decisive edge. Similarly, combating maritime threats is possible only through a powerful Navy. The Army should provide punch and deterrence from the ground. The CDS will have to ensure that the Army, Navy and IAF retain their own characteristics and autonomy despite the three services systems working together in the integration process.
Higher defence reforms and creation of joint theatre commands will lead to far-reaching and multi-dimensional changes in the effectiveness of the Army. Such reforms also include significant infrastructural and administrative modernization and the process of upgrading the army. India’s ability to maintain credible deterrence military capability rests on these reforms. The CDS will also have to ensure that the process of army integration is not just an exercise for financial savings, but is primarily to increase the operational and capabilities of the security apparatus and the process of this restructuring should not be controlled only in the form of financial savings. In the Integrated Battle Group, necessary resources of land, air and navy will be available for quick and effective action under a single commander. The radar systems of the three services will be integrated to ensure optimum utilization and will operate under the overall air defence umbrella. India can have two to three Integrated Theatre Commands (ITCs), one Maritime Theatre Command (MTC) and one National Integrated Air Defence Command (ADC) on the ground. Apart from this, it is also necessary to develop specific integrated warfare systems to counter potential cyber, nuclear, biological and space-borne threats. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for the government to clearly define the key role of the CDS. As per the increasing responsibilities of the CDS and the Department of Military Affairs, DMA, there is an urgent need to designate the Co-Chiefs of the Three Services and the Chief of Integrated Staff as Secretaries in the Department of Military Affairs to make its functioning and role of military integration more meaningful and relevant in the future. Therefore, it is very important to restructure the DMA according to the increasing responsibilities of the Department of Military Affairs in the future.
Similarly, the three services have their own think-tanks while the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) has a think tank related to the three services. In addition, there are many contemporary think-tanks that have tremendous analytical capabilities and experience which should be used from time to time to promote the functioning and integration of the collective operations of the three services.
Civil-military integration in infrastructure development holds the key to the approach of the entire nation towards national security, especially in the proper use of limited resources and coordination of military and civilian efforts in view of strategic, terror and intrusive, economic, cyber and biological epidemics and environmental threats.
The CDS and DMA are now a reality in the Indian security apparatus. However, it will take some more time for the CDS to evolve and mature the structure and methodology required to assist him in discharging his duties. At the same time, the participation and responsibilities of the three service chiefs will also have to be redefined in the future. In the context of current circumstances and future strategic challenges, the CDS will have to act as a very important bridge and integrated, fearless military advisor between the military and political leadership, and at the same time, he will also work tirelessly to facilitate the integration of civilian and military technical efforts.
Major General J.K.S. Parihar is S.M., V.S.M. and Barr (Retd.); former Additional Director General, AFMS and an expert on defence and international strategic affairs.

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