Government notifies eligibility for Chief of Defence Staff: Here's who are eligible to become the tri-service chief. - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 7 June 2022

Government notifies eligibility for Chief of Defence Staff: Here's who are eligible to become the tri-service chief.

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 8th June 22

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued three notifications on Tuesday, specifying the professional qualifications and age limitations for military generals to be eligible for appointment as Chief Of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Indian armed forces. 


India’s military has had just one CDS, or tri-service chief: General Bipin Rawat, who was CDS from January 2020 until his death in a helicopter crash in December 2021. The post has since lain vacant.


Now the MoD has issued three separate notifications: One each for the army, navy and the Indian Air Force (IAF). Officers from all three services are required to meet broadly the same two qualifications.


First, an officer must be either serving, or retired, in the rank of general or lieutenant general. Second, his age should be below 62 years on the date of his appointment. The central government has reserved the right to extend the tenure of the CDS to a maximum of 65 years.


“The Central Government may, if considered necessary, in public interest, so to do, appoint as Chief of Defence Staff, an officer who is serving as Lieutenant General or General or an officer who has retired in the rank of Lieutenant General or General but has not attained the age of sixty-two years on the date of his appointment: Provided that the Central Government may, if considered necessary, in public interest, so to do, extend the service of the Chief of Defence Staff for such period as it may deem necessary subject to a maximum age of sixty-five years," states the government notification dated June 6, 2022.


Two additional notifications spell out similar eligibility conditions for the navy and the IAF respectively.


Assuming the CDS appointment is filled on July 1, 2022, eligibility would be restricted to all serving army generals and lieutenant generals, navy admirals and vice admirals, and IAF air chief marshals and air marshals; all of whom are below 62 years of age since officers at these ranks retire at the age of 60.


In addition, officers of these ranks who retired on or after June 30, 2020 will be eligible for appointment as CDS.


Amongst senior military officers, the guessing games have begun over what choices the government will make in appointing the next CDS. Most believe that the next CDS would be appointed from the army, not only because it is the biggest and most influential service but also because General Rawat’s untimely death left the army CDS’s term unfinished.


It is also unlikely that all serving generals, admirals and air marshals will be considered for the post of CDS. Instead, only army, navy and air force commanders-in-chief will be eligible.


Those conditions open the doors to the serving army chief, General Manoj Pande, his vice chief Lt Gen BS Raju and seven lieutenant generals commanding the seven army theatres.


Also eligible for promotion to CDS are six army commanders-in-chief, who retired on or after July 1, 2020; and who will therefore be under 62 years of age at the end of the month.


The 15 serving and retired army commanders eligible for CDS, therefore, are: Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi and Lt Gen Yogesh Joshi from Northern Command; Lt Gen Rana Pratap Kalita and Anil Chauhan from Eastern Command; Lt Gen Yogendra Dimri from Central Command; Lt Gen Alok Kler and Lt Gen AS Bhinder from South Western Command; Lt Gen JS Nain and Lt Gen Chandi Prasad Mohanty from Southern Command; Lt Gen Nav Kumar Khanduri and Lt Gen RP Singh from Western Command; Lt Gen SS Mahal and Lt Gen R Shukla from the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) and Lt Gen Ajai Singh from the Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC). In addition, former vice chief Lt Gen Satinder Saini, is also eligible.


However, given the current central government’s penchant for surprise announcements, nobody is ruling out the appointment of a surprise candidate.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Out of this list of 15 Generals, how many have the experience of commanding a Tri-services command or organisation ? And that would be a very big asset in bringing about the Theaterisation of the Armed Forces.
    Other than Gen Manoj Pande and Gen Ajai Singh the present GOC-in-C of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, ANC, is there anyone else with such a Tri-services background ?

  3. # if the opinion pieces [always ostentatiously clarified as being views 'personal'] are any indicator, then it is clear that within the numerous armed police entities [with possibly the exception of the railway protection force, and the central industrial security force - given their primarily watch and ward duties] the gazetted officers [GO] are taken up with constant carping over perceived domination by indian police servants deputed to the force in its higher echelons. this seems to be the case in the intelligence bureau, as well as the research and analysis wing. to the extent that the GO have at hand a long litany of professional omissions by the IPS begs the question, is there a culture of subversive perfidy amounting to sedition that has taken over these entities. the IPS have to constantly be on its guard, the enemy being the GO. and being skilled darbari courtiers skilled in the ways of dog eats dog, the aim is to complete an incident free tenure. in short, allow anarchy within the rank and file, turning a blind eye. within the military too there has been the corrosive culture, constantly griping on the loaves and fishes available to IAS and allied services, banging on about the warrant of precedence, OROP and other entitlements. and now inter service resentments that will suppurate with integrated theatre commands, chief of defence staff. there is already heartburn on relative promotion avenues engendered by perceived prejudicial conspiracies rendering a higher proportion of general officers for those of the infantry of the line, vis a vis armoured infantry, tank corps, sappers and miners, field gunners, air defence gunners; the binary being - fighting arms versus support arms. surely we can have a culture where the safety, honour and welfare of our country, and our people come first, always and every time. the honour, welfare and comfort of those we are responsible for come next. our own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time. give everyone within the military, the armed police the opportunity to sit the civil services examinations and transfer out if selected in that merit list. failing which either continue to work with required diligence, devotion or ship out. similarly give every officer with seven years of commissioned service three shots at the DSSC, irrespective of army, navy, air-force, arm or service. those successful, transfer into the corps of general staff where at every stage there will be further winnowing. the selection and training of the general staff should be of the quality that a brigadier not retained for promotion to major general would be snapped up by the corporate sector on release. the civil services are completely dysfunctional because over the decades they have evolved into an efficient trades union - constantly seeking advantages, perquisites, entitlements for their members, and regarding everybody else as barbarians at the gate. are there any CEO in the corporate sector who were headhunted from the IAS. the only post retirement positions they seem to manage are on government commissions, boards, tribunals [crumbs from the table] confirming that for all their posturing, market forces, market economics, the open market simply disregards them.
    for a general officer in the army to not be able to countenance a chief of defence staff in naval whites, it may be time to transfer the jarnail sa'ab from the army list to the pensioned list.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Would 65 not be too old for a serving military officer. 2. For three serving Chiefs to all be superseded by a three star officer would again create a lot of awkwardness. 3. The entire process seems a little clumsy.


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