New CDS to be named soon; General Naravane frontrunner

New Chief of Defence Staff to be named soon; General Naravane frontrunner

The government is also likely to take a call on appointing the new Chief of Defence Staff soon in view of China’s belligerence along its disputed boundary with India

General M M Naravane. Credit: PTI Photo

After General Bipin Rawat’s death in a helicopter crash, General M M Naravane, the Chief of Army Staff, has emerged as the frontrunner for the post of Chief of Defence Staff whom the government will expect to carry forward military reforms taking all service chiefs on board.

General Rawat’s successor is likely to be appointed soon to carry on the military reforms initiated by him to create theatre commands and bring about jointness in the functioning of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Ministry of Defence, of late, advanced the deadline for the Army, Navy and the Air Force to conclude internal studies and submit their reports and views on the proposal of creation of theatre commands from September 2022 to April 2022.

The differences within the military establishment over the basic structure of the theatre commands came to public domain earlier this year when the Chief of Defence Staff General Rawat said that the Indian Air Force remained a supporting arm of the ground forces just like the artillery or the engineers support the combatant arm in the Army. The then Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R K S Bhadauria, however, publicly argued that the Air Force had a greater role to play in any integrated theatre.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently stressed that inputs of all stakeholders must be taken into consideration to bring about reforms and enhance jointness in the military structure.

The government is also likely to take a call on appointing the new Chief of Defence Staff soon in view of China’s belligerence along its disputed boundary with India. Pakistan also, of late, restarted flouting the ceasefire along its Line of Control (LoC) with India after a lull for a few months in addition to facilitating infiltration of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir.

General Rawat, who had taken over as the first CDS of the country on January 1, 2020, died in a helicopter crash at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

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General Naravane succeeded General Rawat to take over as the Army Chief on December 31, 2019 and, as the government starts looking for his successor, he again appears to be the frontrunner, if the appointment is made in accordance with the recommendation of the committee headed by Lt Gen (retd.) D B Shekatkar. The panel had recommended that the CDS should be appointed from among the service chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

General Naravane is senior to both Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhary, and Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar who had taken over their respective offices on September 30 and November 30, respectively.

Though General Naravane, now 61, is due to retire in April 2022 on attaining the age of superannuation, he will continue to be in the top echelon of the defence establishment for three more years if the government selects him to be the successor of General Rawat in the office of the CDS.

A CDS can continue in office till the age of 65. The three service chiefs retire at the age of 62 or after completing three years in office, whichever is earlier.

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