Lt Gen (Retd) Anil Chauhan To Take Charge As Chief of Defence Staff On Friday

The post of the Chief of Defence Staff was vacant since the death of first CDS General Bipin Rawat in December 2021.

Anil Chauhan appointed Chief of Defence Staff

Lieutenant General (Retired) Anil Chauhan will take charge as the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on Friday. 

The post of CDS has been vacant since December 2021 when the first CDS General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu. The Ministry of Defence announced Chauhan's appointment as CDS on Wednesday.

With Chauhan taking charge as CDS, it is expected that the work would resume on the implementation of the ambitious theaterisation of the three services to bring jointness and rule out redundancy of resources.

Presently, the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force, and the Indian Navy have their own individual commands with overlapping areas of responsibility and roles. A theatre command would mean that a particular area –a theatre– is under the command of a single officer under whom all the three services in that area would function jointly. 

Besides working on theaterisation and other reforms, Chauhan as CDS will also carry out a range of roles and responsibilities, such as heading the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and serving as the Permanent Chairman of the Chief of Staffs Committee. 

Chauhan's appointment as CDS was possible after the Narendra Modi's Union government amended the armed forces laws' earlier this year to make three-star serving and retired officers eligible for the post of CDS.

Who is Lt Gen Anil Chauhan?

Lt Gen Anil Chauhan is a decorated Indian Army officer. He is 61-year-old. 

Chauhan is from the 11 Gorkha Rifles. The first CDS Gen Rawat was also from the same regiment.

During his 40+ years of service, Chauhan commanded an infantry division in the Baramula sector in Jammu and Kashmir and a corps in the North East. 

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

At the time of his retirement, Chauhan was serving as the Eastern Army Commander, in-charge of the Indian Army in the North-East which manages critical border areas with China and Myanmar.

Since his retirement, Chauhan has been serving as the Military Adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

Chauhan will assume the rank of the four-star General once he takes charge as India's second Chief of Defence Staff. He will be the first retired three-star officer to return to service in four-star rank.

Roles and responsibilities of CDS

The role of the CDS has been defined as a "dual-hatted" role as CDS serves as the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in Ministry of Defence. 

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.

Besides these roles, the CDS is also tasked with the following roles:

  • Principal Military Advisor to Defence Minister on all triservices issues
  • Administration of the tri-Service organizations/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.

The amendment of CDS eligibility criteria

Initially, only four-star offciers —Generals, Air Chief Marshals, Admirals— could be appointed as CDS. 

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)