Antony again writes to parties on creating top military post


New Delhi : Defence Minister A.K. Antony has once again written to the political parties seeking their views on creating the post of chief of defence staff (CDS) as a single point of reference to advise the government on military matters.

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“I have again written to all political parties to express their views on this. We want a consensus on this,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a two-day Unified Commanders Conference here Tuesday.

Asked whether the government was pushing the case, Antony replied: “After assuming office, this is my second letter. My predecessor (Pranab Mukherjee, now the external affairs minister) had also written a letter.”

“There has been no response so far from the majority of parties,” he added.

Asked whether the government had laid down a time frame, he replied: “We are trying to speed up things.”

Creation of a Chief of Defence Staff was one of the recommendations of a high-powered committee that examined the conduct of the 1999 border conflict that occurred after Pakistani intruders occupied the heights of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir.

The committee felt that a CDS would ensure quicker decisions on matters where the three services were required to act in tandem and to resolve whatever differences might exist on this.

For instance, it was pointed out that differences of opinion between the army and the air force during the Kargil conflict had delayed the deployment of air power against the intruders.

Such differences would not arise if a CDS was in place, the committee had said.

The government accepted the recommendation in 2000 with the caveat that what was first required was the creation of a chief of integrated defence staff (CIDS) to synergise the functioning of the three services. This system has been put into place and is functioning successfully.

Earlier this year, Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor said the armed forces would get the CDS once the structures to support the institution are in place.

“It is an evolutionary process and it should, therefore, follow, that the CDS must come into existence,” Kapoor said.

“The fact that the CDS must come about is not in doubt. What is in doubt is when it should happen,” he maintained.