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Four names in contention for next Chief of Defence Staff

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New Delhi, Dec 13: A meeting is likely to take place this week to decide on who would be the next Chief of Defence Staff. The meeting became necessary following the untimely demise of General Bipin Rawat in an air crash.

General Rawat was India's first CDS. There are four names doing the round and they are Indian Army Chief, General M M Naravane, former Indian Air Force Chief, Air Marshal R K S Bhadauria, IAF Chief, Air Marshal V R Chaudhari and Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar.

Four names in contention for next Chief of Defence Staf

Sources tell OneIndia that the meeting is likely to take place this week and a decision will be taken on whom to appoint as the next Chief of Defence Staff. If the government decides to pick a CDS from the Army, then its chief, General M M Naravane is the frontrunner.

Before the meeting, the government will draw up a panel comprising senior commanders from the Army, Indian Air Force and Navy. The panel would then meet and finalise on the name of the new CDS and then send the recommendation to Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh for approval.

Once approved by Singh, the same would be sent to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, following which a final decision would be taken. Officials cited above said that there would be no delay whatsoever in the decision making as the post is an extremely crucial one.

The overall merit cum seniority is what would be considered before appointing a new CDS. The rules say that all service chiefs can be considered for the post. Its says that a General who can provide sound and single point advise to the government can be considered for the post of CDS.

Air Marshal B K Pandey, B K Pandey tells OneIndia that the senior most among the three chiefs will take over. As it stands, Indian Army Chief, General M M Naravane is the senior most among the three service chiefs. Logically, he should take over.

When the rules were amended the age of superannuation for the CDS was made 65 years, Air Marshal Pandey also pointed out. The post of CDS was a first and his replacement would also be a first owing to an emergency, he also added.

Considering General Naravane's seniority, he could be made the CDS chief. Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari and navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar are around 2 years junior to him.

A recommendation by the Shekatkar committee, the government must choose the CDS from among the three service chiefs. This would mean that General Naravane would be the frontrunner for the post.

General Naravane is due to retire in April next year. If he is named as the next CDS then the post of Army chief would fall vacant. This would mean that the government will have to appoint a new Army chief.

The appointment is extremely important considering the tensions with both China and Pakistan along the Line of Actual Control and Line of Control. The situation at the Af-Pak region with Kabul is an evolving one and the time is very crucial for the government to have a sound and single point military advisor.

The other threat is with regard to cyber security. With Beijing upping its ante on cyber space and waging an information war, the appointment becomes even more crucial. Moreover the situation has become very crucial with Beijing training its guns on Taiwan, US, Japan and Australia.

While there are no clear indications on what the government is planning on doing immediately, there is every chance that the PM Narendra Modi led government may take a deep dive.

The post of CDS was created with plenty of forethought. It was decided that it was absolutely essential not only in the context of the current situation, but also in terms of how the situation would evolve in the near future. General Rawat himself had said that India is facing a threat from 2.5 fronts.

Given the current situation along the LAC, the CDS would have to push for the creation of military theatre commands. His advise to the government of India at such a juncture would be very crucial.

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