For India’s Top Military Post, Government’s Big Change

General Bipin Rawat, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, died in December last year.

New Delhi:

The Defence Ministry today issued new guidelines broadening the scope of eligible officers for the post of the Chief Of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Indian armed forces. The new guidelines mean that even a serving Lieutenant General or their equivalent in the navy and air force could become the CDS. This essentially opens the doors for the second-highest active rank officers of the tri-services to possibly supersede their seniors — the chief of the army, air force, or navy — to take on the role.

Another change in eligibility criteria is that recently retired service chiefs and vice chiefs will also be eligible for the post, though there’s an age ceiling of 62 years.

The move paves the way for India to have a new CDS after General Bipin Rawat, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, and his wife died in December last year after a military chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu, killing over a dozen on board. India has been without a CDS since then.

General Bipin Rawat had retired as Army Chief and was then elevated to the post of India’s first CDS. He was, therefore, older than the service Chiefs and outranked them when he was appointed CDS.

The Chief of Defence Staff runs the Department of Military Affairs in the Ministry of Defence and is principally responsible for getting the armed forces better integrated rather than operating in silos as has been the case for decades. This includes the creation of new military commands which integrate the Army, Air Force, and Navy to fight together.