Months after speculation on who will become India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has appointed Gen Bipin Rawat as the CDS, days before the decorated officer was to retire as a Army chief.
In this role, Gen Rawat will help in facilitating restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands leading to better convergence in functioning of the Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force.
According to a government order, Gen Rawat has been appointed CDS with effect from December 31.
“Government has decided to appoint General Bipin Rawat, as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) with effect from December 31, 2019 and until further orders and extension in service of General Bipin Rawat with December 31, 2019 and till such period he holds the office of CDS,” said a government note.
Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on Security had approved the creation of the CDS who will act as the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters relating to tri-services.
General Bipin Rawat was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978 and has served the as Chief of the Army Staff before this elevation. He has been replaced by General Manoj Mukund Naravane who today took charge as the Chief of Army Staff.
The new Army chief is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy. He was commissioned into the 7th battalion, the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in June 1980.
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) December 31, 2019
When asked about his priorities as the CDS, Gen Rawat said, “I totally focussed on my job as a Chief of Army Staff. I will think about my next job after I assume the next office.”
Government has also created a Department of Military Affairs, to be headed by the CDS. The new department will have under it works relating to the three forces — Army, Navy and Air Force — and procurement exclusive to the services, except capital acquisitions, according to prevalent rules and procedures.
The CDS will also be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by the defence minister and Defence Planning Committee chaired by the NSA.
In his three-year tenure as Army Chief, Gen Rawat has faced allegations of not remaining politically neutral. More recently, he was severely criticised to opine government lines on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) against university students and young people who are protesting across the country against CAA.