General Bipin Rawat named India’s first Chief of the Defence Staff

New Delhi (IANS): Indian Army’s outgoing chief, General Bipin Rawat, was Monday appointed India’s first Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), the principal military adviser to the Defence Minister and head of the new Department of Military Affairs.

“File for the appointment of India’s first CDS was cleared by Appointment Committee of Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday morning,” said a senior government officer, privy to the decision-making process.

The government announced that Gen Rawat, who is all set to demit office as army chief on Tuesday, has been appointed as CDS with effect from Tuesday itself and will be holding the post till 65 years of age, which for him is March 31, 2023.

General Rawat had served a rare full three-year term as the Indian Army Chief after he superseded two officers in 2016.

He was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles on December 16, 1978.

On Sunday, the Defence Ministry amended the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force rules, to provide for the CDS or tri-service chiefs being able to serve till 65. As per existing government rules, the three service chiefs can serve up to the age of 62 or for three years, whichever is earlier.

In his Independence Day speech this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India will have a CDS. The Union Cabinet had, on December 24, approved the post of the CDS and its charter and duties. The CDS will be a 4-star general rank officer.

“He will be drawing a salary equivalent to service chiefs, and will head the Department of Military Affairs to be created under the Ministry of Defence. He will function as its Secretary,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said during the Cabinet briefing.

The CDS will have all the powers like other secretaries, including financial.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had hailed the Union Cabinet’s approval for the CDS and its charter and duties, calling it an “historic and major” decision towards bringing about jointmanship between the armed forces.

The CDS will act as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-services matters. The three service chiefs will continue to advise the Defence Minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective forces.

The idea of creating the CDS’ post is that India should not have a fragmented approach. “Our entire military power will have to work in unison. All the three (services) should move simultaneously at the same pace,” said a senior government official.

The CDS was planned after looking into the changing nature of warfare, security environment and national security challenges.

The biggest challenge before the CDS will be to ensure jointmanship among the three services which will include powers to work on setting up of few theatre commands as well as to allocate military assets among the services to synergize their operations.

MINUTES after the announcement of Rawat’s appointment as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, the principal Opposition, Congress on Monday questioned the Modi government’s move.

Slamming the appointment, Congress Lok Sabha MP from Punjab and spokesperson Manish Tewari said in a tweet that the government had started on a “very wrong foot”.

“With great regret and fullest of responsibility may I say that the Govt has started on a very wrong foot with regard to CDS. Time alone unfortunately will reveal the implications of this decision”, Tewari tweeted.

Last week, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram slammed the Army Chief for his remarks on the protesters opposing the Citizenship Act.

The Congress leader said “Mind your own business” while addressing a rally on the party foundation day which was organised by the Kerala Congress.

Chidambaram also alleged that the Army Chief and Director-General of Police of UP had been asked to support the government, which he called a shameful act. The Congress leaders have slammed the army chief for his political comments.

“Now the Army General has been asked to speak up. Is it the job of the Army Chief?” said Chidambaram.

PRIOR to becoming the army chief, he had been Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) from September 1, 2016 till December 31, 2016, and had headed the army’s Southern Command before it.

Commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’, he has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations.

He has commanded an infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the eastern sector, a Rashtriya Rifles sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the eastern theatre and the Southern Command. He has held instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and at Army War College, Mhow.

Rawat’s important staff appointments include at the Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary’s Branch at Army HQ and as Major General General Staff (MGGS) at HQ Eastern Command.

He has also headed a Multinational Brigade, in a Chapter VII mission of the UN Charter, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). Whilst serving with the United Nations, he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.

An alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command & National Defence College Courses, Rawat, during the span of over 38 years service, has been awarded for both gallantry and distinguished service with the UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, COAS commendation on two occasions and the Army Commander’s Commendation.

He had also attended the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.

Academically inclined, he has authored numerous articles on national security and leadership, which have been published in various journals and publications. He was awarded M. Phil in Defence Studies from Madras University.

He has a Diploma in Management and another Diploma in Computer Studies. He has also completed his research on military media strategic studies and was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut in 2011.