Who is next in line for CDS after General Bipin Rawat?

The sudden and tragic demise of General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff or CDS, on Wednesday, has left a vacuum at the highest levels of India’s military hierarchy. Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane now becomes the senior-most military officer in the country after Gen Rawat’s passing. 

As there is no immediate line of succession envisaged for the CDS, Gen Naravane could be the frontrunner for the position of the next CDS by the principles of seniority.

Gen Rawat became the first CDS on January 1, 2020, and was the 27th Army Chief. Gen Naravane took over as the 28th Army chief from Gen Rawat in December 2019. He is tenured as the Army Chief till April 2022.

The position of CDS includes Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs in the Defence Ministry, permanent Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, and the Principal Advisor to the Defence Minister.

CDS includes bringing about “jointness” in operations, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance of the three Services within three years of the first CDS assuming office.

As the first CDS, Gen Rawat worked between the three Services on integrated theatre commands to reorganise the Indian armed forces and bring them to a consensus.

Gen Rawat had constituted teams headed by the Vice Chiefs of three services to study and submit recommendations on the formation of various commands.

Gen Rawat had set out an ambitious plan to roll out the theatre commands, which has been left unfinished. The next CDS will have to continue Gen Rawat’s legacy to build consensus and take the reorganisation process forward.

Gen Naravane is the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Before that, he served as the Eastern Army Commander and Commander Army Training Command or ARTRAC. 

Gen Naravane is from the Sikh Light Infantry and has commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion in Kashmir, served in the Assam Rifles, and was posted as defence attache to Myanmar.

Speaking at an event last year, Gen Naravane had said that the next logical step in military reforms after the “momentous” step of appointment of the CDS, would be to set up integrated theatre commands and the process to set up the theatre commands needed to be “deliberate, thoughtful and well-considered, and its fruition will take several years”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *