General Bipin Rawat passes away: How role of CDS came about and how his demise creates a void in India's military structure

General Bipin Rawat, India's first Chief of Defence Staff, and his wife died after a military chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu, killing 13...

General Bipin Rawat, India's first Chief of Defence Staff, and his wife died after a military chopper crashed in Tamil Nadu, killing 13 on board.

“With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that General Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident,” the Indian Force said in a tweet, confirming the tragedy on Wednesday.

With his demise India has lost their topmost military man, creating a vacuum at the highest levels of India’s military hierarchy. As we mourn his loss, here’s all you need to know about the role of the chief of defence staff and how he is selected.

Formation of CDS role

On 31 December 2019, General Bipin Rawat was selected as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff. However, the idea of such a role was recommended in 2001 by a Group of Ministers (GoM) that was tasked with studying the Kargil Review Committee (1999) report. The Kargil Review Committee, headed by K Subrahmanyam in 1999 had recommended a comprehensive review of the national security framework for improved decision-making in defence matters.

In August 2019 from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to create the post of Chief of Defence Staff during his Independence Day speech.

Prime Minister Modi announced that the purpose of the CDS would be to act as the Principal Military Adviser to the defence minister on all tri-services matters so as to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.

And as they say, the rest is history.

Duties of the CDS

As the CDS, General Bipin Rawat had these functions to perform:
• To head the Department of Military Affairs in Ministry of Defence and function as its secretary.
• To act as the principal military advisor to the defence minister on all tri-service matters.
• To function as the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
• To be a member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by the defence minister
• To function as the Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority.
• To bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc of the three Services.
• To ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure and rationalise it through jointness among the Services.
• To implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans, as a follow up of Integrated Capability Development Plan.
• To bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services with the aim to augment combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure.

CDS credentials

According to the government of India, the CDS would be a four-star general belonging to any of the three sectors of the Indian Armed Forces and his salary will be equal to that of a service chief.

What next now?

Now, with the passing of General Bipin Rawat, with a year remaining in his tenure, it has created an unforeseen situation for the security establishment.

There is a strong possibility of Naravane being named as the next CDS if the government follows the seniority principal, an official was quoted as telling Hindustan Times.

There is no doubt that the demise of Rawat will create a cascading effect on India's military and if Naravane is chosen as the next CDS, then the post of Army chief will have to be filled fast by the government.

One main concern that remains is that there is no clear rule on how the next CDS will be selected.

But one thing is certain: The task of the new CDS will not be easy. Several major decisions pertaining to formation of theatre commands are at a critical point, which need to be cleared immediately for the smooth functioning of the Indian Armed Forces.

With inputs from agencies

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India World News: General Bipin Rawat passes away: How role of CDS came about and how his demise creates a void in India's military structure
General Bipin Rawat passes away: How role of CDS came about and how his demise creates a void in India's military structure
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