NEW DELHI: The government has started the process of naming a replacement to General Bipin Rawat as the country’s next chief of defence staff (CDS), who, among other things, serves as the military advisor to the Prime Minister’s Nuclear Command Authority.
Because the Army, Navy, and IAF chiefs have complete control over their forces, there is no pressing need to select a new CDS right now. The administration, however, wants to ensure that the “unfinished work” of, who died in a Mi-17V5 helicopter crash on Wednesday, more than a year before his retirement, be “carried forward to its natural end,” according to government sources.
One of the most important responsibilities for the new CDS will be to work toward the development of four new unified commands: the integrated marine theatre command (MTC), air defence command (ADC), and two land-based commands for Pakistan and China, which will build on the framework laid by Gen Rawat.
“The initial consultation process and file processing for the new CDS’s appointment has begun. Except for the fact that a CDS can serve till the age of 65, there are no defined rules for his appointment (Service chiefs serve till 62 or for three years, whichever is earlier). It’s a circumstance that’s never happened before. On Thursday, a source indicated the administration would make a choice based on merit and seniority.
According to The Viral Stories, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, who took over as Army commander from Gen Rawat on December 31, 2019, and is set to retire in April next year, is regarded the frontrunner for the post of CDS.
Gen Naravane is two years younger than the current IAF and Navy heads. Admiral Radhakrishnan Hari Kumar took command on November 30 after Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari took over on September 30.
The CDS, who is also the permanent head of the chiefs of staff committee and the secretary of the defence ministry’s department of military affairs, would presumably be chosen from among the three existing Service chiefs.
In the rank and hierarchy-conscious environment of the 15-lakh strong armed forces, a direct appointment of a three-star officer (Lt-General, Vice Admiral, or Air Marshal) to the CDS post seems doubtful.
If Gen. Naravane is named CDS, it might have huge ramifications for the Army’s succession line. Three top lieutenants-general, all of whom are set to retire early next year, would be in the running for the top job. Vice Chief C P Mohanty, Northern Command Chief Y K Joshi, and Training Command Chief Raj Shukla are the officers in charge.
When Gen Naravane stepped down as Army commander on April 30 next year, Eastern Command chief Lt-General Manoj Pande would have been the senior-most Lt-General. “Who will be the next CDS, and then the next Army chief, is a decision for the government to make.” “It is the government’s prerogative,” a source stated.