General Bipin Rawat, 63, took charge as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff in January 2019; he was also appointed as head of the new Department of Military Affairs.
General Bipin Rawat was the first sitting Chief of Army Staff to be appointed to the top post. The government had initially amended the Army rules to extend the age of superannuation from 62 years to 65 years, paving the way for the appointment. The CDS will be a one-point advisor to the government on matters related to the military and will function with the main aim of integrating the three services — Army, Navy and the Air Force. He will also be the permanent Chief of Staff Committee (COSC).
General Bipin Rawat had taken over the reins of the Indian Army from General Dalbir Singh Suhag on December 17, 2016, as the 27th Chief of Army Staff (COAS). An alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Rawat was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978 in the same unit as his father, the fifth battalion of 11 Gorkha Rifles. The first CDS is a veteran of counterinsurgency warfare and has served in some of the most difficult terrains of India, including the northern and eastern commands.
During his four decades in service, Rawat has served as a Brigade Commander, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-C) Southern Command, General Staff Officer Grade 2 at the Military Operations Directorate, Colonel Military Secretary and Deputy Military Secretary in the Military Secretary’s Branch and Senior Instructor in the Junior Command Wing. He has also been part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and has commanded a multinational brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rawat became the Vice-Chief of Army Staff before becoming the fourth officer from the Gorkha Brigade to become the COAS.
He was instrumental in reducing the militancy in the Northeast, with one of the highlights of his career being the 2015 cross-border operation into Myanmar in which the Indian Army successfully responded to an ambush by NSCN-K militants. The mission was conducted from the operation command of Dimapur-based III Corps under Rawat’s supervision. He was also part of the planning for the 2016 surgical strikes, in which the Indian Army went across the Line of Control into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Rawat, it was reported, was monitoring the developments from South Block in New Delhi.
During his service, General Rawat has been decorated with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal, Yudh Seva Medal, and Sena Medal.