The Centre on Monday appointed outgoing Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat as India's first Chief of Defence Staff, ending days of speculation.
Gen Rawat would retire on Tuesday handing over the baton to lead the 1.3 million strong Indian Army to Lt Gen M M Naravane, who is currently the Vice Chief of the Army.
“The Government has decided to appoint Gen Bipin Rawat as the CDS with effect from December 31, 2019, and until further orders and extension in service of Gen Rawat till such period he holds the Office of the CDS,” the defence ministry said in a press statement.
He was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978 and is currently serving as Chief of Army Staff since January 1, 2017.
As the CDS, Gen Rawat would have a key role in policy, planning and procurement for the entire armed forces. He would also command the tri-service agencies on cyber and space warfare besides functioning as military adviser to the Nuclear command authority.
The three Service Chiefs and the day-to-day operational issues, however, won't come under him. On their own service matters, the Chiefs would report directly to the Defence Minister. CDS would be the sole advisor to the minister only on tri-service matters.
The CDS will head the Department of Military Affairs, to be created within the Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary. In addition, he would be the permanent chairman to the Chief of Staff Committee that coordinates among the three services.
In the current scenario, Gen Rawat will have a “first among the equals” role in the COSC as he is senior to Lt Gen Naravane, Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria and Admiral Karambir Singh by nearly two years.
Gen Rawat would now get three additional years as the Defence Ministry last week changed the rules and regulations under the Army Act, 1950, Air Force Act, 1950 and Navy Act 1957 to allow the serving chief to continue for another three years if he is selected as the CDS.
In the last few days, Gen Rawat received brickbats from a section of the veterans and political leaders who criticised his comments on the role of leaders during student protests.
One of the crucial tasks of the CDS would be “establishment of joint/theatre commands” for “optimal utilisation of resources.” Currently, there are 18 commands distributed among the Indian Army (7), Indian Air Force (7) and Indian Navy (4) besides the Strategic Forces Command.
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day address in which he announced his government's decision to create the post of the CDS, the Union Cabinet last week approved the landmark decision to create the post of CDS in the rank of a four star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief.
Two decades ago, a Group of Minister headed by former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani approved creation of a CDS following the recommendation of an expert panel that reviewed the Kargil conflict.
"This reform in the higher defence management would enable the armed forces to implement coordinated defence doctrines and procedures and go a long way in fostering jointmanship among the three Services. The country would be benefitted by coordinated action on greater jointmanship in training, logistics and operations as well as for prioritisation of procurements," the defence ministry had stated last week.