New Delhi: Intense discussions are on in the Defence Ministry over the issue of appointing a combined Chief of Defence Staff and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has also been meeting the service chiefs and other officials over it, sources said on Monday.
However, the source indicated that that the Defence Minister, who has been extensively briefed on the issue, is not in favour of taking a hurried view on the complicated issue.
A high-level committee, set up to examine the gaps in the country’s security system in the wake of the Kargil war in 1999, had called for appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) as a single-point military adviser to the Defence Minister. In 2012, the Naresh Chandra Task force had also recommended creating the post.
Successive governments have however not taken any decision on the issue.
The source also said that the Defence Ministry is looking into the issue of rank parity between military personnel and armed forces headquarters (AFHQ) civil service officers.
“The Ministry is of the view that no one’s interests should be hurt, and no one should benefit at the cost of others. We are being very cautious, no false equivalence will be made,” the source said.
The source also said that the issue of equivalence should not be mixed with that of non-functional upgrade (NFU), which is in court.
The NFU factor entitles officers or personnel of a batch to get salaries and grade pay of their batch’s senior-most officer after a certain period.
A Ministry circular of October 18, 2016 on rank equivalence between defence officers and armed forces headquarters (AFHQ) civil service officers, brought the ranks of armed forces officers a notch down compared to earlier status.
As per the circular, a Major General and equivalent ranks of Rear Admiral and Air Vice Marshal will be equal to a principal director in the civil service ranks at AFHQ, while a Brigadier and equivalents of Commodore, Air Commodore will be equal to a director, and Colonel (Captain in the Navy and Group Captain in the Air Force) will be equal to a joint director.
Earlier, a Colonel was equated with a Director, Brigadier was treated at par with a Deputy Director-General, and a Major General was treated as equivalent of a Joint Secretary.
A committee was formed by then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the issue, but as per sources, the report has not yet been submitted.