Outgoing Army Chief Bipin Rawat appointed as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff

General Rawat was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978.

Updated - December 31, 2019 01:45 am IST

Published - December 30, 2019 09:49 pm IST - New Delhi

Outgoing Army Chief General Bipin Rawat will become the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) with effect from December 31, 2019.

Outgoing Army Chief General Bipin Rawat will become the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) with effect from December 31, 2019.

The outgoing Army chief, Gen. Bipin Rawat, was on Monday appointed as the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a day before he was to step down on superannuation.

“The government has decided to appoint Gen. Bipin Rawat as the CDS with effect from December 31, 2019 and until further orders and extension of Gen. Bipin Rawat with effect from December 31, 2019 and till such period he holds the office of CDS,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement on Monday evening.

Gen. Rawat is set to retire as the Army chief on December 31 on completing three years of tenure and will assume charge as the CDS.

Vice-Chief of Army Lt. Gen. Manoj Mukund Naravane is scheduled to take over as the 28th Chief of Army Staff .

According to an official gazette dated December 28, the upper age limit for the CDS has been fixed at 65 years.

However, the tenure of CDS has not been fixed. Service Chiefs have a tenure of three years or 62 years, whichever is earlier, and it remains unchanged. As Gen. Rawat has not reached 62 years of age, his tenure as CDS could be longer than his tenure as the COAS unless the government fixes the tenure of CDS at a later stage.

In December 2015, the Government had appointed Gen Rawat as the Army Chief by superseding two senior officers Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi and Lt. Gen. P.M. Hariz, both who have since retired.

Last week, the Union Cabinet approved the creation of the post of CDS, who will be a four star General and function as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister and also as the Permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). The CDS will head the new Department of Military Affairs in the Defence Ministry and function as a Secretary to Government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day address this year, announced the appointment of a CDS who will be above the three Chiefs. Following this Implementation Committee headed by the National Security Advisor was constituted to determine modalities of the new post.

As Army Chief, Gen Rawat initiated the largest restructuring and transformation exercise of the Army since Independence with four major thrust areas: restructuring of Army Headquarters, force restructuring, cadre review of officers and review of terms and conditions of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks (OR). The Army is awaiting government sanction for some of the proposed measures of which the restructuring of Army Headquarters is likely to be implemented next year.

Gen. Rawat took charge as the Army Chief on December 31, 2015 from Gen. Dalbir Singh. He was commissioned into 5/11 Gorkha Rifles in December 1978 from Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’. He hails from Saina village in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand and is the son of former Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Lakshman Singh Rawat.

Gen. Rawat had served as a Brigade Commander of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) in 2008 during which he received laurels for the conduct of the operations. He was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation in UN missions.

Role and responsibilities of CDS

According to an official statement, the CDS will act as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-Service matters while the three Chiefs will continue to advise Defence Minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services. The CDS will administer tri-services organisations while their military command, “will be with the Chief of the duly notified Service, which has a predominant role in effective functioning of that specific tri-service organization, officials said adding, “However, Tri-services agencies/organizations/ commands related to Cyber and Space will be under the command of the CDS.”

“The CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council and Defence Planning Committee,” a government statement said. The recently created specialised triservice divisions, special operations, cyber and space will come under the ambit of the CDS.

As part of higher level military reforms, a number of Committees, the Kargil Review Committee, Group of Ministers (GOM) Report, Task Force on National Security and Shekatkar Committee have studied and recommended creation of the post of CDS or Permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee. In 2012, the Naresh Chandra committee recommended the appointment of a Permanent COSC as a midway to allay apprehensions over the CDS. So far, the seniormost of the three Chiefs functioned as the Chairman COSC but it an additional role and the tenures have been very short.

The issue of the single point military adviser and the creation of theatre commands have been on the agenda of the government in the previous term as well. This was emphasised by Mr. Modi discussion with the Combined Commanders Conference at Dehradun in 2017.

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