Following the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last evening, sources said the government was likely to soon announce a successor to the country’s first-ever CDS Gen Bipin Rawat who died in a helicopter crash yesterday. Army chief Gen MM Naravane is the frontrunner for the CDS post, as IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar have taken over the reins of their forces on 30 September and 30 November respectively.
Of course, there was no official word on the CCS meeting except that the members observed two minutes of silence and paid tributes to all those who lost their lives in the ill-fated Mi-17 V5 crash yesterday.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said a consultation process has been initiated and a file with probable names is being prepared.
An appointment may be made right away or a serving officer may be given additional charge, based on seniority, until a formal appointment is made.
Gen Naravane is slated to retire in April next year. As per the amended military rules, a CDS can serve till the age of 65, while the three Service chiefs have a tenure till 62 or for three years, whichever is earlier.
“There is the ongoing 19-month military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh. Then, there is the entire question of integrating the Army, Navy and IAF into theatre commands as well as ushering in the much-required synergy among them in terms of procurements, planning, logistics, training and doctrines,” said a senior officer, indicating where the needle of suspicion points at with regard to the chopper crash that killed Gen Rawat, his wife and 11 others.
“Gen Rawat had kicked off the entire process but his untimely demise has left the work unfinished,” he added. Gen Rawat wore three hats: the CDS, the permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee and secretary of the newly created department of military affairs in the defence ministry.