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Powerful new post likely for Gen. Fonseka

General Sarath FonsekaDraft legislation to confer wide powers to the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the co-ordinating head of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police, was introduced in Parliament this week.

The move, defence sources said, is a prelude to General Sarath Fonseka, now Commander of the Army, assuming the post of CDS. Currently it is held by Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera, who is tipped to go on a diplomatic appointment.

The present office of CDS, who heads the Joint Operations Headquarters (JOH), has been created under the ongoing Emergency Regulations.
In terms of the bill titled Chief of Defence Staff Act, the post of CDS will be held by a serving armed forces commander holding the rank of General, Admiral or Air Chief Marshal for two years.

Among the powers to be vested in the CDS are:

    * to facilitate the preparation of operational plans for the armed forces and to co-ordinate implementation.
    * to prepare and review contingency plans relating to armed forces.
    * to tender advice on critical strengths and assess the effect of such deficiencies and strengths in meeting national security objectives.
    * to tender advice on the extent to which the progress, recommendations and budget proposals of the armed forces for a fiscal year conform to the priorities established in relation to strategic plans.
    * to tender advice on the extent to which the major programmes and policies of the armed forces relating to manpower and equipment conform to strategic plans.
    * to assess military requirements as against the proposed defence procurement plans and to advise the Ministry accordingly.
    * to facilitate the formulation of policies for the joint training of the armed forces.
    * to facilitate the formulation of policies for peace keeping operations by the armed forces.

The CDS will head a Committee to be appointed by the President. It will comprise commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The CDS is to be empowered to assign staff, both military and civilian, to his headquarters with the approval of the Secretary, Ministry of Defence.

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