General Anil Chauhan Takes Charge As CDS, To Lead Efforts Of Jointness Of Military Branches

General Anil Chauhan has taken charge as CDS nine months after the post got vacant with the death of the then-CDS General Bipin Rawat.

General Anil Chauhan assumed charge as the second Chief of Defence Staff on Friday

General Anil Chauhan on Friday took charge as India's new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). 

As CDS, Chauhan will lead efforts to bring further jointness into the three branches of Indian military — Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy. One of Chauhan's main objectives would be to work towards the theaterisation of the three branches. 

Currently, the three branches of the armed forces have individual commands with over overlapping areas of responsibility and roles. With theaterisation, a geographical area —a theatre— would be under the command of a single officer and all the three services in that area would work together under this officer's command. This would bring jointness and remove redundancy of resources deployed. 

Chauhan is India's second CDS. He was announced as the CDS by the Narendra Modi government after over nine months after the death of General Bipin Rawat, India's first CDS. Rawat died in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu last year. 

Besides leading theaterisation efforts, Rawat will also be the single point of advise on triservices affairs to the Minister of Defence and would also head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) within the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Who is General Anil Chauhan?

Gen. Chauhan assumed the rank of General upon taking the charge of CDS. 

Chauhan is a retired Lieutenant General of the Indian Army with over 40 years of military service. He retired in 2021 as the Eastern Army Commander. 

Since his retirement and up to his appointment as the CDS, Chauhan was working as a Military Advisor in the National Security Council Secretariat, which is headed by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.

Known as an expert on China, his appointment to the top post comes amid the lingering border row between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.

Chauhan is known as a fine military commander who played a key role in enhancing India's military preparedness along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim sectors during his tenure as the Eastern Army Commander.

Chauhan was the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of the Indian Army during the Balakot air strikes in 2019 when Indian warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan.

Gen. Chauhan takes charge as CDS

Before assuming charge of the CDS, Chauhan paid tributes to India's fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial. His father Surendra Singh Chauhan was also present at the memorial.

Chauhan was also accorded a tri-services guard of honour at the lawns of the South Block in the Raisina Hills in presence of Army Chief General Manoj Pande, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, and Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral SN Ghormade.

Chauhan's wife Anupama accompanied him when he took charge of the top office.

Chauhan called on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh shortly after taking charge of the top office.

In a brief interaction with the media, Chauhan said the security challenges facing the nation will be dealt with jointly by the three services.

"I am proud to be assuming the responsibility of the highest rank in the Indian Armed Forces. I will try to fulfill the expectations from the three services and tackle all challenges and difficulties together," said Chauhan.

Chauhan became the first retired three-star Lt General-rank officer to return to the service as a four four-star General.

Roles, responsibilities of Gen Chauhan as CDS

General Chauhan as CDS would lead theaterisation efforts. 

Last year, the DMA headed by late Gen. Rawat had asked all three services to carry out independent studies on the theaterisation plan for its rollout. However, the process did not move further after the death of Rawat.

Initially, a plan was firmed up for the creation of an Air Defence Command and Maritime Theatre Command. The Indian Air Force has some reservations about the proposed theatre commands. 

Besides leading theaterisation efforts, Chauhan would also serve as the head of the DMA in Defence Ministry as its Secretary and also serve as the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

The DMA was made within the Defence Ministry at the time the role of CDS was announced. It covers areas which were earlier covered by Department of Defence (DoD) headed by the Defence Secretary. With the creation of DMA, exclusive military affairs would be overseen by CDS at DMA whereas the larger defence issues would be overseen by the Defence Secretary.

Chauhan would also serve a number of other roles:

  • Principal Military Advisor to Defence Minister on all triservices issues
  • Administration of the tri-Service organisations/agencies/commands 
  • Member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister
  • Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA)

The NCA is the body that authorises the use of nuclear weapons. It has a Political Council headed by the Prime Minister and an Executive Council headed by the NSA. The decision to use weapons is taken by the Political Council and Executive Council gives its inputs. The CDS is a member of this council in an advisory role.


Amendment of CDS eligibility criteria

General Chauhan is the first three-star general to become CDS. 

The Modi government amended the CDS eligibility criteria earlier this year to allow three-star officers to be appointed as CDS. Earlier, only four-star officers could become CDS  — Generals, Air Chief Marshals, Admirals.

Earlier this year, the Modi government amended the defence laws to make eligible any serving or retired three-star officer under the age of 62 for the post of CDS. The three-star officers are Lieutenant Generals, Air Marshals, and Vice Admirals.

Besides allowing three-star officers to be CDS, the amendments also said that the government may extend the tenure of the CDS as per requirements subjected to a maximum age of 65 years. Service chiefs have a tenure of three years or until the age of 62, whichever is earlier.


(With PTI inputs)