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Hope to clinch Chief of Def Staff issue this year: Parrikar

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HYDERABAD (PTI): Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has expressed hope to "clinch" the issue of having a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) during this fiscal.

"The question is not of hurdles (in having a CDS). The important point is that CDS actually has a linkage to jointness in the command (in three forces)," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Combined Graduation Parade at Air Force Academy, Dundigal on the outskirts of Hyderabad on June 18.

About the timeline for having a CDS, Parrikar said, "I won't give a timeline, but during the current financial year, I hope I am able to clinch the issue."

The minister was reacting to a query on when the post of CDS will be a reality and what are the hurdles in it.

"Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) is already there. CDS intends to be much more than that. The 'first among equal' syndrome does not exist with CDS. CDS intends to also have some linkage with jointness in the three forces," he said.

Parrikar said the government has already appointed a committee to look into this aspect.

"Whatever we have accumulated on CDS...various concepts and this aspect among others...would be brought together. We have Air Force Command, Army Command and Navy Command. There are 17 commands. Andaman is supposed to be a joint command.

The real jointness needs to be introduced.

"It cannot be done overnight, but the roadmap has to be laid. Now, if I have to lay a roadmap, I also need (to know) what are the other recommendations on rationalising the strength of armed forces, so that the combat/effective strength increases, while probably reducing some redundant area which would be given back to the armed forces," the Defence Minister said.

On induction of women in a combat role, he said "Some modifications in courses will have to be conducted. Besides, in certain cases, submarines have to be designed to take both the genders because the space availability is very less as they are designed in a particular manner. In combat ship also, similar type of difficulties exist."

"We will overcome them one by one. It is always better to move step-by-step and create adequate facilities," he noted.

"In combat, if need in Gulf countries, I hear that women pilots also go for offensive operation...I don't see any reason why they should not be asked for an offensive operation. But if the number (headcount) is low, there may not be a point in doing that."

Asked about the major leap of IAF by inducting women pilots, and if the government is planning a similar move for the Navy and the Army, Parrikar said, "Let me have more discussions with the armed forces, so that this becomes a smooth operation rather than a forced operation."


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