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CDS Full Form

Preeti GuptaUpdated On: September 04, 2023 02:32 pm IST

CDS full form is Combined Defence Services. Its is an exam conducted twice every year in April and September respectively by the Union Public Service Commission to recruit officers for the Indian Naval Academy and Indian Military Academy. Candidates have to go through multiple rounds of the recruitment process to become an Indian army officer. Continue reading to learn more interesting and important things about CDS like the full form of CDS, eligibility criteria, complete recruitment process, and a lot more.

CDS Full Form - Combined Defence Service

The full form of CDS is Combined Defence Services. This is a national-level recruitment exam that helps the Indian youth realize their dream of becoming an army officer and serving their country. Candidates who successfully clear this competitive exam are recruited as officers in the Indian Naval Academy (INA), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Air Force Academy (AFA) and Officers Training Academy (OTA). 

What is CDS Full Form?

Another full form of CDS is Chief of Defence Staff. This is the highest position in the Indian Military and the person holding this position heads all three major military services including the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Chief of Defence Staff is the prime military advisor or the Minister of Defence and controls the Department of Military Affairs (DMA).

Late General Bipin Laxman Singh Rawat was the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). He was hired at the CDS on January 1, 2020, but couldn't serve the nation for long. The nation lost CDS Bipin Rawat on December 8, 2021, in a helicopter crash in Coonoor Tamil Nadu. In this accident, along with CDS Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 armed forces personnel also lost their lives. 

CDS Eligibility Criteria

To be able to appear in the CDS exam, the candidates must pass certain eligibility criteria. The nationality, qualification, age limit etc should be checked before filling the CDS application form. 

CDS Eligibility Criteria- Nationality

  • The candidate must be the citizen of India or
  • The candidate must be the citizen of Bhutan or
  • The candidate must be the citizen of Nepal
  • The candidate must be Tibetan refugee who have arrived in India before 1st Jan, 1962 with the intention of permanently settling in India or
  • A person of India who has migrated from Pakistan, Burma, Sri Lanka and East African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzanias, Zambia, Malawi, Zaire, Ethiopia or Vietnam with the intention of permanently settling in India.

CDS Qualification 2023

The qualification for CDS 2023 has been set up by the UPSC for admission to various defense academies. The candidate must check the educational qualifications for CDS exam are:


Educational Qualification

Indian Military Academy (IMA) and Officers Training Academy (OTA)

Graduation from a recognised university

Indian Naval Academy (INA)

Engineering degree from a recognised university/institute

Air Force Academy (AFA)

Completed Graduation with Physics and Mathematics in Class 12 or Bachelor of Engineering

CDS Age Limit 2023

As per the regulations laid by UPSC, only unmarried candidates are eligible for CDS exam. The candidates willing to apply for CDS exam can check the age limit criteria below:

  • For admission to Indian Military Academy (IMA), the unmarried male candidates must not be born earlier than January 2nd, 1999 and not later than 1st Jan, 2024 are able to apply.
  • For the Indian Naval Academy (INA), the unmarried male candidates born not earlier than 2nd January, 1999 and not later than 1st Jan, 2024 are eligible to apply.
  • The candidates applying for Air Force Academy should be between 20 to 24 years till 1st January, 2023. 
  • For the Officers Training Academy which is an SSC Course for men, unmarried male candidates born earlier than 2nd January, 1998 are eligible to apply.

Role and Responsibilities of CDS

Joining the army is one of the most fulfilling jobs that not just gives an opportunity to serve the country but also to make a real difference in the lives of the people by protecting them. Major roles and responsibilities of the CDS include:

  • To head the Department of Military Affairs
  • To work as the Principal Military Advisor to Raksha Mantri
  • To bring together the operations of all three services
  • To work as Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority

CDS Overview

CDS Full Form

Combined Defence Services

CDS Exam Conducting Body


Exam Mode


Frequency of Examination

Twice a Year

CDS Selection Process

  • Written Exam
  • SSB Interview
  • Medical Test

Official website

CDS Recruitment Process

The complete selection process through CDS is divided into three phases, including

  1. Written Exam: CDS written exam is conducted every year in April and September.
  2. SSB (Service Selection Board) Interview: Candidates who clear the written exam are further called for the SSB round that is conducted after a month or two based on the academy you selected. 
  3. Medical Examination: The last round in the CDS recruitment process is the medical examination that is conducted by the army doctors at the army hospitals. 

The final merit list is prepared by considering the medical certificate and the written and SSB marks into consideration. Candidates whose names are there in the final merit list need to report at the applied academy on the given date. They also need to carry all the documents mentioned in the joining instructions. 

Who can Appear for CDS?

Candidates who want to appear for Combined Defence Services (CDS full form) need to meet some conditions set by the UPSC. One can check those conditions below:

  • Only unmarried graduates can appear for the exam
  • Candidates between the age of 19-24 years for IMA, AFA, INA and 19-25 years for OTA can sit for the exam
  • Candidates with permanent tattoos are not eligible for CDS
  • Candidates who want to apply for the exam should not have a hernia on their body
  • Anyone with any congenital venereal disease cannot apply for the exam

Sections Covered in CDS Exam

CDS is conducted in an offline mode wherein three sections are covered for INA, IMA and AFA categories: 

  1. English 
  2. General Knowledge 
  3. Elementary Mathematics

For the exam conducted for the OTA category, two sections are covered in the written exam, which includes:

  1. English
  2. General Knowledge

CDS Salary

Candidates who clear the CDS, full form of which is Combined Defence Services, exam have to undergo Cadet training during which they get a fixed stipend. The stipend is the base salary in Level 10. As per the 7th Pay Commission, cadets undergoing the training get a training stipend of INR 56,100 per month. CDS salary based on different ranks can be checked in the table below:

CDS Rank-wise Salary and Pay Scale

CDS Rank

Pay Level

CDS Salary/ Pay Scale


Level 10

 Rs 56,100 – 1,77,500 Per Month


Level 10 B

 Rs 61,300 – 1,93,900 Per Month


Level 11

 Rs 69,400 – 2,07,200 Per Month

Lieutenant Colonel

Level 12 A

Rs 1,21,200 – 2,12,400 Per Month


Level 13

Rs 1,30,600 – 2,15,900 Per Month


Level 13 A

 Rs 1,39,600 – 2,17,600 Per Month

Major General

Level 14

Rs 1,44,200 – 2,18,200 Per Month

Lt General HAG Scale

Level 15

 Rs 1,82,200 – 2,24,100 Per Month

HAG + Scale

Level 16

 Rs 2,05,400 – 2,24,400 Per Month

VCOAS/ Lieutenant General (NFSG) / Army Cdr

Level 17

Rs  2,25,000 (Fixed) Per Month


Level 18

Rs 2,25,000 (Fixed) Per Month

Additional Perks CDS Officers Get

In addition to the fixed salary, Combined Defence Services (CDS full form) officers get additional perks as well. These perks and benefits include:

  • Flying Allowance
  • High Altitude Allowance
  • Free Ration
  • Transport Allowance
  • Dearness Allowance
  • Uniform Allowance


What is another full form of CDS in Defence?

Another CDS full form in Defence is the Chief of Defence Staff. The person hired as the Chief of Defence Staff is the head of the Indian Armed Forces. 

What is the full form of CDS?

CDS full form is Combined Defence Services. 


Why is the CDS exam conducted?

The CDS exam is one option for candidates to become an officer in the army. Candidates who pass the written exam are called for the SSB interview.


Is the CDS exam tough to crack?

CDS is one of the toughest exams in India, but it's not impossible to crack this exam. With the right preparation, dedication and the right attitude, one can crack this exam. 


Are NCERT books enough for CDS exam preparation?

The answer is no. NCERT books might help you work on your basics, but are not enough to crack the CDS exam. To qualify in the CDS written exam, you also need additional study material and newspapers like The Hindu, and Indian Express to stay updated with the latest news.