Here’s probable new CDS, list handed over to Rajnath; General Naravane frontrunner

Officials said on Friday that the government has started the process of appointing the next Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) and a list of names based on the recommendations of the three services will soon be submitted to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh for approval.

He said the government is finalizing a panel of senior commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force to choose the successor of General Bipin Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash near Coonoor last week.

The list is being finalized based on the recommendations of the three services and will soon be submitted to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh for approval, two people familiar with the development said.

He said that after the approval of the Defense Minister, the names would be sent for consideration by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet to take a final decision on the appointment of the new CDS.

It is learned that considering his overall experience, there is a strong possibility of appointing Army Chief General MM Naravane to the top post. The army chief is due to retire in April.

General Naravane is the senior-most among the three service chiefs.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Choudhary and Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar assumed their respective positions on 30 September and 30 November.

If General Naravane is appointed as CDS, the government will also have to find his replacement.

Vice Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen CP Mohanty and Northern Army Commander Lt Gen YK Joshi will be the frontrunners for the post of Army Chief.

Lt Gen Mohanty and Lt Gen Joshi belong to the same batch and are the senior most commander after General Naravane. Both of them are due to retire on January 31.

General Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 11 armed forces personnel were killed in a helicopter crash on December 8. Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the accident, died on Wednesday.

On January 1 last year, General Rawat took over as India’s first CDS to bring about convergence in the functioning of the Army, Navy and Indian Air Force and enhance the country’s overall military prowess.

Another major mandate of the CDS was to facilitate the restructuring of military commands for optimum utilization of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including the establishment of theater commands.

In 1999, a high-level committee set up to examine deficiencies in India’s security arrangements in the wake of the Kargil War recommended the appointment of the CDS as a single-point military advisor to the Defense Minister.

Over the past two years, the late CDS General Bipin Rawat laid the groundwork for implementing the tri-services reforms.

The CDS is also the Secretary, Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the Ministry of Defense and Principal Advisor to the Defense Minister.