Broadsword assesses: Who will be appointed the next Chief of Defence Staff? - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 9 June 2022

Broadsword assesses: Who will be appointed the next Chief of Defence Staff?

In the opinion of Broadsword, the general who is poised to be the next CDS: Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan (Retired).

Service record:  Lt Gen Anil Chauhan has served as the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO). He retired as the General Officer Commander-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Eastern Command. In army-speak, he was the Eastern Army Commander. The Eastern Army, which has a huge area of responsibility, is ranked alongside the Northern Army as one of the army's two most sensitive commands.

Age conditions: He retired on May 31st, 2021, when he turned 60. That means he would fulfil the 62 years condition till May 31st, 2023. He will remain in contention for almost a year.

Seniority: Lt Gen Anil Chauhan is senior to all three service chiefs. So there would be no embarrassing seniority-related friction in the event of his being appointed CDS, or tri-service chief.

Current occupation: Chauhan is working in the office of the National Security Council. The influential National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, has come to know him well and Chauhan has had the time to build a relationship.

Like General Bipin Rawat, Chauhan is from the 11th Gurkha Rifles. Both of them are from Uttarakhand.


  1. # that chiefs of air, army, navy staff are placed in a salary grade higher than a secretary to GoI, the latter being placed in the salary grade in which the vice-chiefs as well as army commanders and their air force and naval equivalents are placed may not render the secretary to GoI in the ministry of defence as being under the chiefs within the administrative hierarchy. decisions taken by the cabinet committee on security are not communicated either by chairman of the committee, viz the PM, or the raksha mantri as a member, but are done so by the secretary MoD directly to army commanders on operational matters, while keeping the COAS informed, or to the COAS on administrative matters. the secretary MoD being the ex-officio secretary of the CCS does not become the personage in charge under whom the COAS, army commanders function. the COAS continues to be the adviser to the RM, as do the two other chiefs on their respective services. with the establishment of the new position, the CDS has now become the adviser to the RM on military matters, with the individual service chiefs continuing as advisers to the RM on their own services. neither the CDS, nor individual chiefs are commanders in chief of the GoC-in-C, AOC-in-C, or FOC-in-C, or have operation control of any of the army, air force, naval commands, nor for that matter does the secretary to GoI in the defence ministry have operational control. confusion on relative roles, responsibilities, conflation of administrative hierarchy with operational control is not uncommon among middle and junior grades within the officer corps, especially when venting at the officers mess leaning against the bar. but generally those who have been trained in higher command, selected to the national defence college flagship course are well matured into collegiality and symbiosis. if indeed there is heartburn over inter se ranking then obviously some mandarins within the MoD, PMO have succeeded in sowing confusion. rendering all the gold braid and brass as gilded ornaments to pander to the egos of status conscious blimps.

  2. Sir,

    You were absolutely correct in your prediction.


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