Nine months after the death of General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash, the government on Wednesday named Lt General Anil Chauhan (Retired) the new Chief of Defence Staff, the country’s top military officer and leader of one of the world’s largest armed forces.
Lt Gen Chauhan, 61, had retired as Eastern Command Chief in May 2021 and was serving as the Military Advisor to the National Security Council.
In a career spanning over nearly 40 years, he has held several appointments and has extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East.
Since this is the first time that a retired officer has been appointed to the position, the government issued a gazette notification to announce the change in rules for the appointment.
Born on 18th May 1961, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1981.
He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
As a Major General, he had commanded an Infantry Division in the Baramulla sector in the Northern Command.
Later as Lt General, he commanded a corps in the North East and went on to become the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command from September 2019 and held the charge until his retirement from the service in May 2021.
In addition to these command appointments, the officer also given important staff appointments, including the charge of Director General of Military Operations.
He is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.
As Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), he will be the senior-most uniformed officer and first among equals, sharing his four-star rank with the chiefs of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.
Lt Gen Chauhan will also function as Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Military Affairs with effect from the date he takes charge.
The post had been vacant since December 8 last year after the death of General Bipin Rawat at age 63.
General Rawat, who had been India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, and his wife were killed after a military chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu, killing 13 on board. The only survivor, an Air Force Group Captain, died of severe burns later.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hand-picked General Rawat, a decorated general, as CDS in late 2019 with a mission to reorganise India’s army, air force and navy into a single, modern force with U.S.-style joint theatre commands. He took charge in January 2020.
The CDS is also the single point of contact for the government for giving military advice and is the senior-most bureaucrat in the Defence Ministry, which has four major departments.
The appointment comes amid efforts by the government to give a big push to local manufacturing of equipment for defence forces.