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Lt General Anil Chauhan named India’s new Chief of Defence Staff

Distinguished Infantry officer hails from the same district as NSA Ajit Doval and the first CDS General Bipin Rawat; to concurrently hold the position of Secretary Department of Military Affairs

Photo Credit : Indian Army


Lt General Anil Chauhan: The Indian military’s new numero uno

The Government on September 28 announced the appointment of Lt General Anil Chauhan (Retired) as India’s Chief of Defence Staff. 

The belated appointment comes almost 10 months after the tragic death of India’s first CDS, General Bipin Rawat, in a helicopter crash in the Nilgiris on December 8, 2021. 

Like General Rawat, Lt General Chauhan shall also function as Secretary, Department of Military Affairs and the permanent chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee. 

A former commander of the Eastern Army, Lt General Chauhan is currently the Military Advisor to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). Like his current boss, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his predecessor, the late General Rawat, Lt General Chauhan hails from Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand. Also, like General Rawat, Lt General Chauhan is from the Gorkha Regiment. 

Lt General Chauhan’s appointment will be effective from the date he assumes charge as CDS and “until further orders”. 

His name was cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi almost four months after the Government tweaked rules to widen the selection pool for CDS to include retired three and four star officers below the age of 62. Lt General Chauhan retired as Eastern Army Commander in May 2021 at the age of 60.

Lt General Chauhan, who was senior in service to all the three serving Chiefs of the armed forces, is likely to take over as CDS in the four-star rank of General. 

As General Rawat’s successor, he has big shoes to fill. His principal task will be to renew momentum to India’s biggest military reform in restructuring the fighting commands of the armed forces into unified theatre commands. His other priority besides effecting jointness in the functioning of the armed forces will be to give greater urgency to indigenisation of Defence procurements, as per the political mandate of the Government. 

Commissioned into the 11th Regiment of the Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1981, Lt General Chauhan had a distinguished 40-year military career during which he commanded an Infantry Division in the Baramulla sector of Kashmir and a Corps in the North-East before serving as Eastern Army Commander from September 2019 to May 2021. He has also served as Director-General of Military Operations. His command profile indicates an extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East. He has also served in the UN Mission in Angola. 

The appointment of a CDS was recommended by the Kargil Review Committee as a single-point military adviser to the Defence Minister. The Review Committee was tasked with making recommendations for filling the gaps in India’s security apparatus post the Kargil War in 1999. It took almost two decades after this recommendation for India’s first CDS, General Rawat to be appointed on December 31, 2019. 

The appointment of a CDS and the creation of the Department of Military Affairs under him completely upended the civil-military equation in the Ministry of Defence, giving the military leadership the decisive sway in the Ministry of Defence.