Explained: Why Lt General Anil Chauhan is a good pick for the role of India’s CDS


Nine months after the death of General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu, the country has a new Chief of Defence Staff in Lt General Anil Chauhan (retired).

The Centre on Wednesday announced that retired 61-year-old Army officer has been appointed as the country’s top military officer and leader of one of the world’s largest armed forces.

This is the first time a retired officer has been appointed to the post. Additionally, this is also the first time that a retired three-star officer returns to active service in a four-star position.

Here’s why the Lt General Chauhan as Chief of Defence Staff is a good pick for the Indian Armed Forces.

Long, meritorious service

Born in May 1961, 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 the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.

Chauhan retired in May 2021 as the Eastern Command Chief, which means he served for a period of over nearly 40 years.

During service as Major General, he had commanded an Infantry Division in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla sector in the Northern Command. Later as Lt General, he commanded a corps in the North East and then became General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command from September 2019 until he retired from service.

In 2019 during the Balakot strike, he was the Director General of Military Operations.

He had also served in the United Nations mission to Angola.

He is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.

Also read: Explained: What's the role of Chief of Defence staff and what do new changes in government rules mean?

Experience in counter-insurgency operations

During service, Lt General Chauhan accrued vast knowledge on counter-insurgency operations. Commanding an Infantry Division in Baramulla, he had to deal with the insurgency there. Also, during his tenure in the northeastern parts, he had to contend with insurgency.

He was also the brains behind Operation Sunrise, a joint Indo-Myanmar military operation that targeted multiple insurgent groups in the Northeast in 2019.

In May 2019, the armies of India and Myanmar carried out a three-week-long coordinated operation in their respective border areas, targeting several militant groups operating in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam.

Defence sources in a PTI report were quoted as saying that the operation saw the arrest of at least six dozen militants, belonging to the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), the NSCN (Khaplang), the United Liberation Front of Assam (I) and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB). Moreover, their camps were also destroyed.

Also read: Why India needs a Chief of Defence Staff more than ever before

A China expert

His long period in the Eastern Command has given Lt Gen Anil Chauhan a unique and special perspective on China, making him an expert on the Asian nation.

During the Galwan clash in 2020, he was the GOC-in-C and was tasked in ensuring the security of those areas.

In December 2020, he was quoted as saying, “It’s a long border between India and China. And friction at one part of the border on bonhomie cannot be taken as a yardstick to form opinion for the entire border. I would like to say that there have been no intrusions or major face-offs in the area of responsibility of Eastern Command since friction erupted in Ladakh.”

A military tactician

Post retirement too, Lt General Chauhan continued to serve the country by acting as the military advisor to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

The NSCS sits at the apex of the national security architecture, to ensure coordination between ministries and unity of purpose across government in the realm of national security

Challenges awaiting new CDS

Lt General Chauhan will have a challenging time ahead of him as the new CDS. He will be responsible for completing the theaterisation process of the Army, Navy, and the Indian Air Force, a task his predecessor General Rawat was actively driving.

He will also have to focus on the modernisation of the forces as well as make priority procurements to ensure that the country’s defences are capable of taking on any enemy.

The other challenge for Lt General Chauhan would be ‘How do you solve the problem called China’. Since the Galwan clashes in 2020, there has been tensions at the Line of Actual Control and India has to contend with a nosy and dangerous neighbour.

There’s also the long-standing problem of Pakistan.

In short, there’s several challenges awaiting Lt General Chauhan. What remains to be seen is if Lt General Chauhan can rise to the occasion.

With inputs from agencies

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Explained: Why Lt General Anil Chauhan is a good pick for the role of India’s CDS
Explained: Why Lt General Anil Chauhan is a good pick for the role of India’s CDS
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