Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was on Monday named as the country’s first chief of defence staff, a day before his retirement from service, ANI reported. The 61-year-old was one the front-runners for the post.
The Cabinet Committee on Security had last week approved the creation of the post of a chief of defence staff of the Indian Armed Forces.
With the appointment, Rawat will be higher in rank than the chiefs of the Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force. He will function as a single point of contact for different branches of the Indian Armed Forces and will be the military advisor to the Indian government. Rawat will also head the Department of Military Affairs and be paid a salary equal to a service chief. However, the chief of defence will not exercise any military command over the three service chiefs.
The Centre has also amended rules to allow the chief of defence staff to serve till the age of 65. According to rules, the service chiefs can serve for a maximum period of three years or till the age of 62, whichever is early. The term of the post has not yet been determined.
The amended rule puts the chief of defence staff on a par with the comptroller and auditor general, the chief election commissioner and the central vigilance commissioner in terms of retirement age.
Rawat will retire from service after completing a full three-year term as the Army chief.
A committee set up following the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan had recommended the creation of the post of a chief of defence staff. The Naresh Chandra Task Force in 2012 had recommended creating the post of a permanent chairperson of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in his Independence Day address this year first announced that such a post would be created. “Our forces are India’s pride,” Modi said. “To further sharpen coordination between the forces, I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort: India will have a chief of defence staff, CDS. This is going to make the forces even more effective.”