The union government today named Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (Retired) the new chief of defence staff (CDS), the top military officer of the country and leader of one of the largest armed forces in the world — nine months after the death of Gen Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash. The 61-year-old Lt Gen Chauhan had retired as the chief of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army in May 2021 and was serving as the military adviser to the National Security Council.
Since this is the first time that a retired officer has been appointed to the position, the government issued a gazette notification to announce the change in rules for the appointment of Lt Gen Anil Chauhan.
Career of Lt Gen Anil Chauhan
Lt Gen Anil Chauhan has, in a career spanning more than 40 years, held several military posts and has long experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.
Born on 18 May 1961, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles in 1981. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
As a major general, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan had commanded an infantry division in the Baramulla sector in the Northern Command of the army.
Subsequently, as lieutenant general, Chauhan commanded a corps in the Northeast and was promoted to the rank of general officer commanding-in-chief of the Eastern Command in September 2019. He held the charge until his retirement from the service in May 2021.
Other than these command appointments, Chauhan was given important staff appointments, including the charge of director-general of military operations.
Lt Gen Anil Chauhan is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.
Duties of Lt Gen Anil Chauhan as CDS
As Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt Gen Anil Chauhan will be the senior-most uniformed officer and first among equals, sharing his four-star rank with the chiefs of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.
Lt Gen Chauhan will function also as the secretary to the union government in the Department of Military Affairs with effect from the day when he becomes the CDS.
The post of CDS had been vacant since 8 December 2021 after the death of Gen Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash at age 63.
Gen Rawat, who was India's first CDS, and his wife were killed after a military chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu, killing 13 on board. The only survivor, an IAF group captain, died of severe burns later.
PM Modi had picked Gen Rawat as first CDS
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hand-picked Gen Rawat, a decorated general, as CDS in late 2019 with a mission to reorganise India's army, air force and navy into a single, modern force with American-style joint theatre commands. He took charge in January 2020.
The CDS is the single point of contact for the government for giving military advice and is the senior-most officer in the Ministry of Defence, which has four major departments.
The appointment of Lt Gen Anil Chauhan comes amid a somewhat relaxed international borders and Line of Control with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control with China and efforts by the government to give a big push to local manufacturing of equipment for defence forces.