General Rawat is India’s first CDS: Right Man at The Right Place
In an illustrious career spanning 37 years in the Army, India’s first CDS General Bipin Rawat has served as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee as well as 27th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.
India has now joined the league of top nations which have a single military official who serves as the ‘first among equals’ among service chiefs with the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Incidentally, India was the only large democracy which did not have such a position. All the five permanent members of the UN already have this post. General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS of India on December 30, 2019, and he assumed office on January 1, 2020.
The position of CDS was first officially suggested in 1999 following the Kargil War by the Kargil Review Committee. Though demands were raised over many years, it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who took the call during his Independence Day speech on August 15, 2019. On December 24, 2019, the Cabinet Committee on Security formally announced the creation of the position. CDS, a four-star general and a tri-service Chief, leads the defence forces as well as takes up other roles.
India’s first CDS General Rawat has served as Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee as well as 27th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. Born in Pauri, Uttarakhand on March 16, 1958, General Rawat’s family had been serving in the Indian Army for several generations and his father was Lieutenant General Laxman Singh Rawat.
After studying at Cambrian Hall School, Dehradun and the St Edward’s School in Shimla, General Bipin Rawat joined the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
He is also a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and the Higher Command Course at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has an MPhil degree in Defence Studies as well as diplomas in Management and Computer Studies from Madras University. In 2011, he was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy by Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut for his research on military-media strategic studies.
General Rawat began his life in the Army after being commissioned into the 5th battalion of 11 Gorkha Rifles on December 16, 1978. During a 37-year-career, he has been awarded for gallantry and distinguished service with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Yudh Seva Medal, Sena Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal and the COAS Commendation on two occasions and the Army Commander’s Commendation. The major engagements of General Rawat during his career include the Sino-Indian skirmish of 1987, UN Mission in Congo and Myanmar strike of 2015.
After being promoted to the Army Commander grade, Rawat assumed the post of General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command on January 1, 2016. After a short stint, he assumed the post of Vice Chief of Army Staff on September 1, 2016. On December 17, 2016, he was appointed as the 27th Chief of the Army Staff. He took office of Chief of Army Staff on December 31, 2016.
As CDS, General Rawat is tasked with trimming weapons procurement procedures and integrating operations of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Apart from being the military advisor for the government, he will also head the Department of Military Affairs. The CDS will have the authority to direct the service chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force and also to create theatre commands as and when needed. He can also command tri-service agencies/ organisations/ commands including those related to cyber and space.
CDS will be a member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by the Minister of Defence and Defence Planning Committee chaired by the National Security Advisor. General Rawat will function as the Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority. Another duty of the CDS is to streamline utilisation of infrastructure in the three Services.
Implementing the Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans as a follow up of Integrated Capability Development Plan is yet another task of CDS.
Bringing about reforms in the functioning of three Services aimed at augmenting combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure is among the duties of CDS. The incumbent has to assign inter-Services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals.General Rawat will serve a full three-year term till December 2022.