Former Army Commander Lt Gen Anil Chauhan’s new CDS

More than nine months after the country’s first Chief of Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat (Retd), died in a helicopter crash, the government announced that it is appointing Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (Retd) as the new CDS.

A Defense Ministry statement said Chouhan “will also serve as Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Military Affairs with effect from the date of his assumption of the office until further orders”.

The announcement ended the speculations about the future of the post, which started with a long delay in filling the vacancy. This is the first instance in the country’s Army when a retired officer returns after some time in uniform to serve as his senior-most officer. Chouhan retired in May 2021. Rawat took over as CDS a day after his withdrawal as Army Chief.

According to the ministry, in a career spanning nearly 40 years, Chouhan has held several commands, staff and assistant appointments with vast experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu, Kashmir and the Northeast.

Born on 18 May 1961 in Uttarakhand, Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles in 1981. He is an alumnus of the National Defense Academy and the Indian Military Academy. His precursor Rawat was also from 11 Gorkhas.

“In the rank of Major General, the officer commanded an infantry division in the crucial Baramulla sector of the Northern Command. Latterly as an assistant general, he commanded a fraternity in the North East and became the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command from September 2019 until he retired from service in May 2021.

According to the ministry, apart from holding these command posts, Chouhan also had necessary staff appointments, including the charge of the Director General of Military Operations.

“Before, the officer also served on the United Nations Mission in Angola. The officer retired from the Indian Army on 31 May 2021. Indeed after retiring from the Army, he continued to contribute to public security and strategic affairs,” the ministry said.

After his retirement, Chouhan joined the National Security Council Secretariat as a military advisor, replacing Lt Gen Vinod G Khandare, who resigned in October 2021.

Chauhan’s appointment comes three months after the government amended the rules for appointment to the post of CDS. In June, the Armed Forces’ revised service rules made all serving. They recently retired three-star officers below 62 – lieutenant general, air marshal and vice admiral – eligible for the post.

The amendment disqualified the then-leader for the post, retired Army Chief MM Naravane, the position of service chiefs, who retired after attaining the age of 62.

As a CDS, Chauhan will automatically become a four-star officer and the first in the equivalent group of service chiefs – the only four-star officers in the country are CDSs and are the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

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