From new Army Chief to CDS, why December will be an important military year for India
New Delhi, Nov 29: The Government of India will appoint the new Chief of Defence Staff in December. The government would also make another crucial appointment of Chief of Army Staff as General Bipin Rawat would be retiring as the chief on December 31.
The three names in contention for the post of Army Chief are Vice-Chief Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh and Southern Army Commander Lt Gen S K Saini.
Sources tell OneIndia that the name of Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane is likely to be cleared as the next Army Chief. General Rawat, on the other hand, would be the next CDS, sources say. General Rawat as CDS would be a four-star general and would enjoy the rights of a first among equals.
The next Army Chief:
In September Lt Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane has assumed charge as vice chief of the 1.3 million-strong Army.
Lt Gen Naravane is in contention for the Army chief's post as he will be the senior-most commander when incumbent Gen Bipin Rawat retires on December 31, official sources said.
Before taking charge as vice chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Naravane was heading the Eastern Command of the Army which takes care of India's nearly 4,000-km border with China.
In his 37 years of service, Lt Gen Naravane has served in numerous command and staff appointments in peace, field and highly active counter-insurgency environments in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.
He has also commanded a Rashtriya Rifles Battalion in Jammu and Kashmir and an infantry brigade on the eastern front.
He was also part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka and had served as India's defence attache at the Indian Embassy in Myanmar for three years.
Lt Gen Naravane is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy.
He was commissioned into the 7th battalion, the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in June 1980.
"He brings with him an enormous amount of experience in serving in the most challenging areas," the Army said in a release.
The General is a decorated officer who has been awarded the 'Sena Medal' (Distinguished) for effectively commanding his battalion in Jammu and Kashmir.
He is also a recipient of the 'Vishisht Seva Medal' for his services as the Inspector General Assam Rifles (North) in Nagaland and the 'Ati Vishisht Seva Medal' for commanding of a prestigious strike corps.
He was also honoured with 'Param Vishisht Seva Medal' for his distinguished services as the GOC-in-C of the Army Training Command.
The role of the CDS:
The CDS would be the single point advisor to the Government on matters relating to the military. The advice by the CDS would also be binding on the three service chiefs. This would mean that the existing post of Integrated Defence Staff would be converted into the Vice Chief of Defence Staff.
Top sources in New Delhi tell OneIndia that the new CDS would be appointed by the end of this year.
Currently, the process to fix the tenure, rules, regulations among other formalities are underway.
There are also deliberations on regarding the tenure of the CDS. The source said that we will decide soon on whether the retirement age should be 63 or 64. Currently, the name of General Rawat is doing the rounds and he would be turning 62 on March 16, 2020.
The current Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, whose name has done the rounds for this post would retire on December 30, 2019. He will turn 62 by March 16, 2020.
The source also added that the high powered committee headed by National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval is framing the terms of reference. The officer added that the government would be looking for field commanders too. This way we can have a larger pool of human resources to choose from.
The Doval led team is also discussed the tenure of the CDS. One of the key points of discussion is on tenure and whether it should be one or two years. Under the current arrangement, the chairman of the chief of staff committee usually has a tenure of 5 to 6 months.
The other point of discussion is whether the CDS should be a five or four-star general. There has been some finality in this regard and the committee is of the view that the CDS should be of four-star rank, the source also added. It may be recalled that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi during his Independence Day address had announced the creation of the post of CDS. This post had been recommended by the Kargil Review Committee. This move is being considered as one of the biggest military reforms.
The powers that would be vested would be crucial. In 2001, a group of ministers had recommended that the CDS should have administrative control and not operational control. "The CDS should have the requisite mandate and authority. Give it time to evolve as acceptability will be an issue. Need is to align authority and accountability," the Kargil Review Committee had said. While previous governments were reluctant on creating such a position, this time around the Modi government decided to go in for a CDS as it would be a game-changer.
The CDS would be a one-point reference for the Prime Minister in all security-related matters, especially those concerning the military. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Independence Day address, had said that in order to further better coordination between the forces, I want to announce that India will have a Chief of Defence Staff. This would ensure that the forces are more effective, Modi also said during his Independence Day speech.
The first time that the recommendation for this post was made was by the K Subrahmanyam Committee that was set up after the Kargil. Another committee headed by Naresh Chandra which was set up to suggest reforms in higher defence management had also suggested the importance of such a post.
The committee, however, suggested that the post of a Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff be created. The CDS would focus on coordination between the three service chief when it comes to procurements, budgeting, logistics and training. The Army, Navy and IAF chief will, however, continue to have operational command of their respective forces.