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General Chauhan Takes Over As Chief Of Defence Staff, Ending Uncertainty Over Fate Of Military Reforms

India’s 2nd CDS is the first retired General to be brought back to active service on promotion to four-star rank

Photo Credit : Ministry of Defence

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General Anil Chauhan inspecting a tri-service guard of honour before taking over as India’s second Chief of Defence Staff

General Anil Chauhan took over as India’s second Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on September 30, ending almost 10 months of uncertainty over the fate of the biggest reforms in Independent India’s higher defence management. 

It is the first time in India’s military history that a retired three-star general has been brought back to service on promotion to four-star rank, over the heads of all serving four-star service chiefs. 

Aware that he has the big shoes of his predecessor, the Late General Bipin Rawat, to fill, General Chauhan sized up the job on Day 1. “It is a matter of pride for me to be appointed CDS. There are hopes and expectations among the three Services, the Government and the citizens from the new CDS which I will fulfil to the best of my abilities,” he said after inspecting a tri-service guard of honour at South Block in New Delhi.

The security challenges facing the nation will be dealt with jointly by the three Services, he added. 

At the apex of India’s military leadership, reorganising the combat formations of the three Services into unified Theatre Commands will be his principal task. The other pressing responsibility will be to give momentum to the Government’s indigenisation agenda for Defence production, while balancing the requirements of operational readiness. 

These are big changes for the tradition-bound armed forces, which are traditionally resistant to change, and will require deft management. 

General Chauhan belongs to the same district as National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and the late General Bipin Rawat. As CDS, General Chauhan will be the Principal Military Advisor to the Defence Minister and will concurrently serve as Secretary, Department of Military Affairs in the Ministry of Defence and also the permanent chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee. In terms of his commission into military service, General Chauhan is senior to all the three serving Chiefs. 

Prior to his appointment as CDS, General Chauhan was the Military Adviser to the National Security Council Secretariat. He retired from the Army in May 2021 as the Eastern Army Commander after a distinguished four-decade career during which he commanded a Corps in the North-East, a Division in Kashmir and also served as Director-General Military Operations. 

The diminutive General has a formidable military reputation and is known as a protégé of General Rawat. 

Before taking over as India’s General No. 1, he paid homage to the fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial. He inspected a tri-service guard of honour in the presence of Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande, Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice-Admiral SN Ghormade and the Vice-Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal BR Krishna. 

In June 2021, rules for appointment of CDS were amended by the Government making retired three-star Generals below the age of 62 eligible for selection. The upper age limit for retirement of a CDS is 65 years. General Chauhan will hold the post of CDS “till further orders”. 


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Chief of Defence Staff india General Anil Chauhan