Chief of Defence Staff
Seal of the Chief of Defence Staff
Flag of the Chief of Defence Staff
General Bipin Rawat

since 1 January 2020 (2020-01-01)
Integrated Defence Staff
TypeChief of Defence
Member of
Reports toMinister of Defence
ResidenceNew Delhi, India
SeatIntegrated Defence Headquarters, Department of Military Affairs, Ministry of Defence
AppointerAppointments Committee of the Cabinet
Term lengthTenure not fixed. May serve until the age of 65.[1]
PrecursorChairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
Formation24 December 2019; 21 months ago (2019-12-24)
First holderGeneral Bipin Rawat
DeputyVice Chief of Defence Staff
WebsiteOfficial website

The Chief of Defence Staff of the Indian Armed Forces (CDS) is the head of the military staff of the Indian Armed Forces and the chief executive of the Department of Military Affairs. As the highest-ranking serving officer in the Indian Armed Forces, the CDS is the commanding officer and chairperson of the Joint Commanders and Staff Committee – making him the chief military adviser to the government of India and the Ministry of Defence. As the professional head of the armed forces, the Chief of Defence Staff is also aided by the newly formed office of Vice Chief of Defence Staff, the nation's second highest ranking military officer, and the three chiefs of staff of the army, navy and air force, who are the leaders of each respective branch. The first and current CDS is General Bipin Rawat, who took office on 1 January 2020.[2][3]

The CDS is a four-star officer selected from among the serving officers of the Indian Armed Forces. While being "first among equals" among the service chiefs, the CDS is a single-point military advisor to the defence minister.[4].The CDS is assisted by a deputy, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. The CDS heads the Department of Military Affairs under the Ministry of Defence, as its secretary. Apart from heading the DMA, the CDS is the Permanent Chairperson of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (PC-CoSC).[5]

Chief of Defence Staff is a critical position in today's era of hybrid warfare, and will help increase coordination, tri-service effectiveness and integrate overall combat capabilities of Indian armed forces.[6] The Defence Secretary, a civil servant, remains as the main defence adviser, whilst the CDS has been sanctioned the role of being the main military adviser, acting as the single-point military adviser to the government and Defence Minister.[a][7] India was the only large democracy which did not have a single point military advisor; with all P5 countries having one.[8]


The position was first officially suggested in 1999 following the Kargil War through the recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee.[9][10] Although a long-talked-about position in India,[11][12] the official call was made public by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech on 15 August 2019 at Red Fort, New Delhi.[13][14] On 24 December 2019, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) formally announced the creation of the position, a four-star general, a tri-service chief, that shall lead the defence forces.[15][16]

The post of Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee (Chairman-CoSC) had been formed in 1947 as a precursor to the post of CDS, responsible for advice to the Defence Minister on all military matters.[17][18] The senior-most of the three service chiefs would be appointed Chairman CoSC.[19]

General K. V. Krishna Rao advanced creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff in June 1982.[20] However, officially, it was only following the Kargil Review Committee's recommendation in 1999 that the Group of Ministers (GoM) officially proposed the creation of the post of CDS in 2001.[10] Following committees, including the Naresh Chandra task force in 2012 and the Lieutenant General D. B. Shekatkar Committee in 2016, also proposed their own versions of a CDS.[21] The process of consulting all parties involved began in 2006. In 2017, the Cabinet Committee on Security started the process of making the final decision related to the creation of a post for the CDS.[22][23][24]

The matter had opposition over the years on various fronts.[25] After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Pratap Chandra Lal, had threatened to quit if the post of CDS was created.[26] There were also fears that such a post would be too powerful.[26] In 2001 the government was on the brink of making the then Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral, Sushil Kumar, the CDS. A date had been fixed including other formalities. However, due to turf wars, among other reasons, the idea was scrapped.[8]

Following the Prime Minister's announcement, a committee was announced on 23 August 2019 under the National Security Advisor, consisting of the Cabinet Secretary, the Defence Secretary and the Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee (C-COSC) among others, to make final the powers of the CDS. The committee was to submit its report within six weeks.[27] By November 2019, government sources reported the committee had largely completed its tasks and would release an official charter and enabling framework for the post of CDS by mid-December.[5] On 24 December, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) formally established the post of Chief of Defence Staff, a four-star general, a tri-service Chief, that shall lead the defence forces as well as play the role of head of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA).[15][16]

Description of the post

See also: Jointness and integration in the Indian military

As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, CDS will perform the following functions:[28]

The CDS's salary and perquisites will be same as the service chiefs. The CDS will come under the Right to Information Act.[32]

Uniform and insignia

Rank insignia of Chief of Defence Staff
Rank insignia of Chief of Defence Staff

While the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) wears the appropriately coloured uniform of their parent service, the gold-wreathed tri-service emblem of the Indian Armed Forces (the Naval anchor, crossed Army swords and Air Force eagle, all surmounted by the national emblem of India) is used in place of service insignia and unit emblems. The wreathed tri-service emblem is also substituted for service cap badges, uniform button and belt badge service insignia, shoulder flashes and the shoulder rank badges of a four-star officer with The four-star gorget patches similar to that used by a service chief. While the car pennant is that of the officer's parent service, the tri-service emblem is substituted for the rank stars.[33][34]


No. Portrait Chief of Defence Staff Took office Left office Time in office Service Previous office Minister of Defence Ref
Rawat, BipinGeneral
Bipin Rawat

(born 1958)
1 January 2020Incumbent1 year, 288 days Indian ArmyChief of the Army StaffSingh, RajnathRajnath Singh (BJP)[3]


Among the first reforms proposed by the new CDS was the creation of an Air Defence Command.[35] Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDS emphasised the need to minimise costly defence imports, give a chance to domestic production even with only 70% of the general staff qualitative requirements, and not 'misrepresent operational requirements'.[36][37] In February 2020, the CDS announced the creation of joint military commands and theatre commands, "Integrated Theatre Commands"; and that the process of theaterisation will be complete in a number of years.[38][39] Each command will have units from Army, Navy and Air-force working in synergy with each other.[38] In September 2021, the CDS aired views on a prospective rocket or missile force.[40][41]

See also



  1. ^ "The three service chiefs would continue to advise the minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective services"[4]


  1. ^ Dinakar Peri (29 December 2019). "Chief of Defence Staff can serve till 65, says government".
  2. ^ "Gen Bipin Rawat named as the country's first Chief of Defence Staff". The Economic Times. 30 December 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b Ranjan, Rajeev. Nair, Arun (ed.). "General Bipin Rawat took over as Chief of Defence Staff, US Congratulates Him". NDTV. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Govt sets up Dept of Military Affairs to be headed by Chief of Defence Staff". Hindustan Times. 24 December 2019. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b Gupta, Shishir (19 November 2019). "India's first Chief of Defence Staff will direct three service chiefs". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  6. ^ Subramanian, Nirupama (16 August 2019). "Explained: Understanding post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)". The Indian Express. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  7. ^ Singh, Rajneesh (Summer 2017). "Harmonising Military–Bureaucracy Relations in Defence Ministry: Some Thought" (PDF). CLAWS Journal – via Centre for Land Warfare Studies.
  8. ^ a b Unnithan, Sandeep (23 August 2019). "Chief of Defence Staff: Can the new superchief call the shots?". India Today. Archived from the original on 23 August 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  9. ^ Pandit, Rajat (16 August 2016). "India to finally get chief of defence staff, 20 yrs after it was mooted". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b Mukherjee, Anit (21 August 2019). "A top post, its promise and peril". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  11. ^ Kanwal, Gurmeet (27 September 2018). "Where is India's Chief of Defence Staff ?". The Economic Times. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  12. ^ Panag, Lt Gen H S (20 June 2019). "Modi must appoint chief of defence staff – and prove India's political class isn't fearful". The Print. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  13. ^ "PM Narendra Modi's mega announcement: India will now have Chief of Defence Staff". India Today. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Independence Day 2019 Live Updates- India will have a Chief of Defence Staff: PM Modi in I-Day speech". Hindustan Times. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  15. ^ a b Som, Vishnu (24 December 2019). Srinivasan, Chandrashekar (ed.). "India To Get Its First Chief of Defence Staff, Will Be A 4-Star General". NDTV. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  16. ^ a b P, Rajat (24 December 2019). "India to now get chief of defence staff, will be a 4-star general". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  17. ^ Rej, Abhijan; Joshi, Shashank (2018). India's Joint Doctrine: A Lost Opportunity (PDF). Observer Research Foundation. p. 8. ISBN 9789387407497.
  18. ^ "Mehra Relinquishes Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairmanship" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. 31 January 1976. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  19. ^ Singh, Rahul (24 December 2019). "Govt sets up Dept of Military Affairs to be headed by Chief of Defence Staff". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  20. ^ Elkin, Jerrold F.; Ritezel, W. Andrew (1984). "The Debate on Restructuring India's Higher Defense Organization". Asian Survey. 24 (10): 1069–1085. doi:10.2307/2644220. ISSN 0004-4687. JSTOR 2644220.
  21. ^ P, Rajat (15 August 2019). "PM Modi: India to have new post of Chief of Defence Staff". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  22. ^ Pubby, Manu (11 July 2018). "India may soon have Chief of Defence Staff". The Economic Times. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  23. ^ PTI (15 December 2016). "CCS to take final decision on Chief of Defence Staff post". Firstpost. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  24. ^ Kanwal, Brig Gurmeet (12 December 2013). "Chief of Defence Staff must be Appointed Immediately". Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  25. ^ Roche, Elizabeth (15 August 2019). "Army chief Bipin Rawat may be first chief of defence staff". Livemint. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  26. ^ a b Sinha, S.K. "The Chief of Defence Staff" (PDF). Journal of Defence Studies. 1 (1): 133–137 – via Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
  27. ^ Shishir, Gupta (23 August 2019). "NSA Ajit Doval-led panel to set terms for Chief of Defence Staff position". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  28. ^ a b "Cabinet approves creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff in the rank of four star General". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 24 December 2019. Retrieved 25 December 2019.
  29. ^ "India's first integrated Air Defence Command by June, will be headed by 3-star IAF officer". 15 February 2020.
  30. ^ "CDS aims to set up Air Defence Command by June 2020". 15 February 2020.
  31. ^ "CDS Gen Bipin Rawat announces plan to create Peninsula Command". 17 February 2020.
  32. ^ PTI; 2019 (3 December 2019). "Chief of defence staff to come under RTI Act; NSA-led panel submits report". The Times of India. Retrieved 3 December 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  33. ^ Bhalla, Abhishek (31 December 2019). "Here is what CDS Gen Bipin Rawat's new uniform will look like". India Today. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  34. ^ "Army's Sword, IAF's Eagle and Navy's Anchor on Insignia of India's First CDS Bipin Rawat". News18. 1 January 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  35. ^ "Bipin Rawat holds meeting on creating Air Defence Command". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 2 January 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 17 February 2020.CS1 maint: others (link)
  36. ^ "CDS General Bipin Rawat reiterates 'Make in India' for armed forces". The Economic Times. 10 May 2020. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  37. ^ P, Rajat (10 May 2020). "CDS Bipin Rawat: Forces must shun imports, go for 'Make In India', says Gen Bipin Rawat | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  38. ^ a b "CDS General Rawat unveils big ticket military reform agenda". The Economic Times. PTI. 17 February 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  39. ^ Dutta, Amrita Nayak (4 February 2020). "India's joint military theatre command process to finish in 3 years, says CDS Bipin Rawat". ThePrint. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  40. ^ "EXPLAINED: What Is A Rocket Force, Which Gen Rawat Says India Needs To Fight Battles Of The Future". News18. 17 September 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  41. ^ PTI (15 September 2021). "India looking at creating rocket force: CDS Gen Rawat". The Times of India. Retrieved 22 September 2021.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)