Govt. changes Service rules to make retired officers eligible for CDS post

The post of CDS is vacant since the death of Gen. Bipin Rawat in December 2021.

The post of CDS is vacant since the death of Gen. Bipin Rawat in December 2021. | Photo Credit: G. Ramakrishna

Setting the stage for appointment of the next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the Government has amended Service Rules of the Army, Navy and Air Force, allowing retired Service Chiefs and three-star officers eligible for consideration for the country’s top military post.

However, with an age limit that the retired officer should not have attained 62 years on the date of appointment, retired Service Chiefs are largely ruled out, especially so for the present consideration.

“... The Central Government may, if considered necessary, in public interest, so to do, appoint as CDS, an officer who is serving as Lieutenant General or General or an officer who has retired in the rank of Lieutenant General or General but has not attained the age of 62 years on the date of his appointment,” the amendment in the Service Rules of the Army states in the gazette dated June 6, 2022. Similar amendment was made in the service rules of Navy and Air Force as well.

As the Government considers several officers for the post, this amendment makes all three-star rank officers who have retired in the last two years eligible, as Lieutenant Generals in the Army, Vice-Admirals in the Navy and Air Marshals in the Air Force retire at the age of 60.

The gazette notification of December 2019, before the appointment of the first CDS, did not specifically state that serving officers of Lieutenant General rank and equivalent are eligible to be considered.

In December 2019, the Government approved the creation of the post of CDS, who would also function as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister and Permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). In addition, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) was created as the fifth department in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), with the CDS functioning as its Secretary.

Gen. Bipin Rawat, who had served as the 27th Army Chief from December 31, 2016 till December 31, 2019, took over as the first CDS on January 1, 2020. He, along with his wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 others, was killed in a chopper crash on December 8, 2021. The post of CDS has been lying vacant since then.

The age limit for the CDS’s post is 65 years with no fixed tenure defined, unlike for the Service Chief which is three years of tenure or 62 years of age.

After the appointment of the CDS, the armed forces were brought under the ambit of the DMA, which also deals with works relating to the three Services, and with procurement exclusive to the Services, except capital acquisitions which remains with the Department of Defence. The broad mandate of the CDS includes bringing about “jointness” in “operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance of the three Services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office”.

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Printable version | Jun 8, 2022 7:56:38 am |