More than nine months after Gen Bipin Rawat’s death in a helicopter crash, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (retd), a former eastern Army commander and director general of military operations, was named India’s next chief of defence staff on Wednesday.
The 61-year-old Chauhan, a renowned Army commander and specialist on China, will serve as Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs beginning on the day of his assumption of responsibility and continuing until further instructions.
In 2019, when Indian jets bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training centre deep within Pakistan in retaliation for the Pulwama terror attack, he served as the Army’s Director General of Military Operations (DGMO).
When Lt Gen Chauhan (retd) assumes command as India’s second Chief of Defence Staff, he will attain the rank of four-star General (CDS). He will join the military as a four-star officer for the first time among retiring three-star officers.
He has been working as the military adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat under NSA Ajit Doval since he retired as the eastern army commander last year.
The new Chief of Defence Staff will be Lt. Gen. Anil Chauhan (Retired), who will also serve as Secretary to the Government of India’s Department of Military Affairs, effective from the moment he assumes responsibility and until further instructions, according to a statement from the defence ministry.
On September 10, Lt Gen Chauhan (retired) participated in a ceremony to honour the first CDS Gen Rawat by renaming the strategically significant Kibithu military post on the banks of the Lohit Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh.
Lt Gen Anil Chauhan, who was born on May 18th, 1961, joined the 11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1981.
Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (retd) had an almost 40-year career and held a number of command, staff, and instrumental positions. He also had significant involvement in counterinsurgency operations in Jammu & Kashmir and Northeast India.
When he was the eastern army commander in May of last year, Lt Gen Chauhan departed from the military.
He significantly improved India’s overall combat preparedness along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim sectors as the commander of the Eastern Army.
He graduated from the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun and the National Defense Academy in Khadakwasla.
The general, who held the rank of Major General, oversaw an Infantry Division in Northern Command’s crucial Baramulla area.
He later oversaw a corps in the Northeast while serving as a lieutenant general. From September 2019 until he retired from the military in May 2021, he served as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command.
The officer held significant staff positions, including Director General of Military Operations, in addition to these leadership postings.
The officer had previously worked on a UN mission in Angola.
In his capacity as CDS, Lt Gen Chauhan (retd) will have difficulty carrying out the government’s ambitious proposal to create theatre commands that will assure tri-service cooperation.
Lt. Gen. Anil Chauhan (retired) received the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Sena Medal, and Vishisht Seva Medal for his honorable and outstanding service in the Army.
Since the death of Gen. Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 12 other people in a helicopter crash on December 8, the position of CDS has remained vacant.
Gen. Rawat assumed command as India’s first CDS on January 1, 2020, with the mission of improving the Army, Indian Air Force, and Navy’s coordination of operations and enhancing the nation’s overall military might.
The formation of theatre commands was one of the CDS’ primary responsibilities to allow the reorganization of military bases for the best possible resource use.
The government changed the criteria in June to allow any serving or retiring Lieutenant General, Air Marshal, or Vice Admiral under 62 to be appointed to the position of CDS.
Due to a regulation change, serving heads of the three services and three-star commanders were eligible to join the CDS.
However, the 62-year age requirement for officers applying for the position of CDS disqualified a number of officers.
While the age restriction for the three Service heads is 62 years of age or three years of service, whichever comes first, the CDS has no set tenure restriction and an age restriction of 65 years.