General Bipin Rawat was named as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff a day before he was to retire from services after completing a full three-year term as the Chief of Army Staff.
Days before the government announced its decision to appoint him as the CDS, General Rawat was surrounded in controversy, owing to his comment on the ongoing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. He had criticised the people leading violent protests against the new legislation.
General Rawat will be able to serve as CDS for a period of up to three years after the government amended the rules extending the age of retirement to 65 years.
The Cabinet Committee on Security had, in a landmark decision last week, approved the creation of the CDS who will act as the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters relating to tri-services.
The recommendation for the CDS had first been made after the Kargil War. It was argued that this post will create better coordination between the three services -- the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
Who Is General Bipin Rawat?
Prior to becoming the Army chief, General Rawat had been Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) from September 1, 2016 till December 31, 2016, and had headed the army's Southern Command before it.
Commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where he was awarded the 'Sword of Honour', he has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations.
He has commanded an infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the eastern sector, a Rashtriya Rifles sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the eastern theatre and the Southern Command. He has held instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and at Army War College, Mhow.
Rawat's important staff appointments include at the Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary's Branch at Army HQ and as Major General General Staff (MGGS) at HQ Eastern Command.
He has also headed a Multinational Brigade, in a Chapter VII mission of the UN Charter, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). Whilst serving with the United Nations, he was twice awarded the Force Commander's Commendation.
An alumni of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command & National Defence College Courses, Rawat, during the span of over 38 years service, has been awarded for both gallantry and distinguished service with the UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, COAS commendation on two occasions and the Army Commander's Commendation.
He had also attended the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA.
Academically inclined, he has authored numerous articles on national security and leadership, which have been published in various journals and publications. He was awarded M. Phil in Defence Studies from Madras University.
He has a Diploma in Management and another Diploma in Computer Studies. He has also completed his research on military media strategic studies and was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut in 2011.
Role of the Chief of Defence Staff
A key mandate of General Rawat as the CDS will be to facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through the establishment of joint or theatre commands. He will be a single-point military advisor to the government.
The CDS will act as the Principal Military Adviser to the Defence Minister on tri-services matters. The three service chiefs will continue to advise the Defence Minister on matters exclusively concerning their respective forces.
Though the Indian armed forces have been conducting joint exercises, the tri-services have never integrated to have a common logistics, operations, support services and communication services.
The CDS will have the authority to direct the tri-service chiefs and the authority to create theatre commands as and when needed.
The idea of creating the CDS' post is that India should not have a fragmented approach. "Our entire military power will have to work in unison. All the three (services) should move simultaneously at the same pace," said a senior government official.
The CDS was planned after looking into the changing nature of warfare, security environment and national security challenges.
The biggest challenge before CDS will be to ensure jointmanship among the three services which will include powers to work on setting up of few theatre commands as well as to allocate military assets among the services to synergise their operations.
(With inputs from agencies)