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The Government’s Major Move for India’s Key Military Post!

The Defence Ministry published new rules today that extend the pool of candidates for the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Indian armed forces. Under the age of 62, any serving or retiring Lieutenant General, Air Marshal, or Vice Admiral will be eligible for the position of Chief of Defence Staff. This effectively allows the tri-services, the second-highest active rank commanders to potentially supplant their superiors – the chief of the army, air force, or navy – and broadens the pool from which a CDS may be selected.

Another modification in qualifying requirements is that recently retired service chiefs and vice chiefs will be eligible for the position, however, there is a 62-year age limit. The action clear the way for India to have a new Chief of Defence Staff after General Bipin Rawat, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, and his wife perished on December 8, last year, when a military helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu, killing over a dozen others on board. Since then, India has lacked a CDS.

The government published separate notices on Monday as part of the Air Force Act, the Army Act, and the Navy Act to provide provisions for any serving or retiring Lt General, Air Marshal, or Vice Admiral to be nominated as the CDS. ‘The Central Government may if considered necessary and in the public interest, appoint as Chief of Defence Staff an officer who is serving as Air Marshal or Air Chief Marshal or an officer who has retired in the rank of Air Marshal or Air Chief Marshal but has not attained the age of 62 years on the date of his appointment,’ the notification issued under the Air Force Act 1950 stated.

It further said that the government may prolong the Chief of Defence Staff’s employment for as long as it deems necessary, subject to a maximum age of 65 years. The Army Act of 1950 and the Navy Act of 1957 both issued identical notices. Three service heads are appointed for three years or until they reach the age of 62, whichever comes first.

General Bipin Rawat had retired as Army Chief and was subsequently appointed as India’s first CDS. As a result, he was older than the service Chiefs and outranked them when he was named CDS. The Chief of Defence Staff is in charge of the Ministry of Defence’s Department of Military Affairs and is primarily responsible for better integrating the armed services rather than functioning in silos, as has been the case for decades.

This involves the formation of new military commands that bring the Army, Air Force, and Navy together to fight as one. A high-level committee formed in the aftermath of the Kargil conflict in 1999 to investigate the inadequacies in India’s security structure proposed the appointment of the CDS as a single-point military counsel to the defence minister.


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