Days after the government announced the creation of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) post, retiring Army chief, General Bipin Rawat, was appointed the first tri-service chief with effect from December 31, 2019. General 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 is 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. CDS would 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).
On December 8, 2021, the 63-year-old's life was cut short after a tragic chopper crash in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu in which Rawat, his wife and 11 others on board the ill-fated helicopter.
The copter carrying General Rawat and his entourage crashed in apparently foggy conditions, the IAF and other officials said. He is survived by two daughters.
Background and Indian Army Service
Born in Pauri, Uttarakhand on March 16, 1958, his family had been serving in the Indian Army for multiple generations. His father Laxman Singh Rawat was from Sainj village of the Pauri Garhwal district and rose to the rank of Lt General.
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 43-years in service, Rawat 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 was also a 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 had 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.