The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, has given an entirely new twist to the controversy over the government's alleged dithering when it came to taking the issue of Chief of Defence Staff forward. In an interview to NEWS X, the air chief has said it was highly debatable whether India needed a CDS at all!
Now this is a comment which is absolutoly at divergence with what the military intelligentsia has been saying all along. They have been unanimous in their belief that India does need a CDS. And this belief has been reflected in the various reports of the Standing Committees of Parliament as well as the Kargil review committee.
Air Chief Marshal Major has taken the line that the countries which have the office of CDS do not have similar strategic challenges when compared to India. He is of the opinion that India has two active borders-Pakistan and China-and this situation is not replicated in Western Countries.
It is not known whether the two other services Chiefs, Gen Deepak Kapoor and Admiral Sureesh Mehta, share the opinion of the air chief. And all this time there was a feeling amongst the media and the defence analysts community that the service chiefs down the line have been unanimous in the view that a CDS was must to ensure jointmanship in future wars.
Well, Air Chief Marshal Major has certainly given a new dimension to this debate which must be taken up vigorously and debated upon. Till now, the political parties were facing the ire of the serving and retired military personnel for causing delay to the announcement of a government decision on CDS by not responding to a government letter seeking consensus on the issue. It would be interesting to see the reactions from various quarters to the air chief's comments.