Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan (Retd), the Military Adviser (MA) to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) will be India’s next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the government announced on Wednesday ending the months-long suspense over who would succeed General Bipin Rawat’ untimely demise last December.
Lt Gen Chauhan, who will now be four-star General and is senior to all current armed forces Chiefs, will also function as Secretary to the Department of Military Affairs (DMA). The officer, who is serving as MA to NSCS after retiring from the Army in May 2021 and is a known China expert and Commanded the Eastern Command when tensions peaked on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China during the massive build-up across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
Chauhan’s appointment also comes almost four months after the government amended the Army, Air Force and Navy rules in early June to broaden the pool of officers from which the CDS could be selected. The authorities made retired three-star officers among those eligible for the top job. The new CDS will have to pick up the threads of Gen Bipin Rawat’s legacy of armed forces jointness and integration and spearhead the process of building an integrated war machinery by creating theatre commands and other reforms.
Last week, the newly appointed CDS Lt Gen Anil Chauhan, in the capacity of Military Adviser to NSCS, spoke on “National Security and Collaborative Approach” at the inaugural session of BharatShakti’s annual conference “India Defence Conclave 2022” organised by its Founder and Editor-in-Chief Nitin Gokhale on 20 September in New Delhi.
Emphasising the significance of self-reliance in the defence sector for national security, the newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff Gen Anil Chauhan said India’s strategic autonomy could only be fulfilled if we reduce foreign dependencies.
“India’s freedom of choice in exercising its independent national security policy will largely depend upon the concept of self-reliance or atmanirbharta”, he observed.
Expressing his opinion on national security, Lt Gen Chauhan said, “of the three facets of national security – territory, people, and the ideology on which a state is based and the values it promotes – the well-being of the population has got prominence”.
Speaking in his earlier role as the Military Advisor to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), he was of the view that changing technological advances, new arenas and methods of combat influencing the outcome of conflicts pose new challenges that call for a collaborative approach, be it within a nation or among like-minded nations.
Born on 18th May 1961, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles (the same regiment as Gen Rawat) of the Indian Army in 1981. As a Maj General, the officer commanded an Infantry Division in the critical Baramula sector in the Northern Command. Later as Lt Gen, he commanded a Corps in the Northeast and subsequently became the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command from September 2019. He held the charge til he retired from service in May 2021. In addition to these command appointments, the officer also tenanted important staff appointments, including Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) during the Balakot air strike.
As CDS, he will also be the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and the single-point military adviser to the Defence Minister.