Gen Anil Chauhan on Friday became India’s new Chief of Defence Staff with a mandate to implement the ambitious theaterisation plan that seeks to ensure tri-services synergy and prepare the military for future security challenges.
Gen Chauhan, a former Eastern Army Commander, took charge as the country’s senior-most military commander over nine months after first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu.
“I will try to fulfil expectations of the three services,” Gen Chauhan said.
Known as an expert on China, his appointment to the top post comes amid the lingering border row between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.
Sixty-one-year-old Chauhan will also function as Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs.
He retired from service on May 31 last year when he was serving as the Eastern Army Commander. After his retirement, he was serving as the military adviser to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) headed by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval.
Before assuming charge of the CDS, Gen Chauhan paid tributes to India’s fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial in the India Gate complex.
He was also accorded a tri-services guard of honour at the lawns of the South Block in the Raisina Hills.
Born on May 18, 1961, Gen Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1981.
As CDS, Gen Chauhan’s primary task will be to implement the theaterisation model to bring in tri-services synergy by rolling out integrated military commands.
Last year, the Department of Military Affairs headed by Gen Rawat had asked all three services to carry out independent studies on the theaterisation plan for its rollout.
However, the process did not move further after the death of Gen Rawat on December 8, 2021.
As per the theaterisation plan, each of the theatre commands will have units of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and all of them will work as a single entity looking after security challenges in a specified geographical territory under an operational commander.
At present, the three forces have a total of 17 commands. Initially, a plan was firmed up for the creation of an Air Defence Command and Maritime Theatre Command.
The Indian Air Force has some reservations about the proposed theatre commands.
In June, Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari said the IAF remains fully committed to the tri-services integration for enhancing the comprehensive national combat power.
Gen Chauhan is known as a fine military commander who played a key role in enhancing India’s military preparedness along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in the Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim sectors during his tenure as the Eastern Army Commander.
He was the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of the Army during the Balakot air strikes in 2019 when Indian airplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan.
In becoming the CDS, Gen Chauhan assumed the rank of the four-star General as the post was created in the rank of a four-star general.
Gen Chauhan is the first retired three-star officer to return to service in four-star rank.
In a career spanning nearly 40 years, Gen Chauhan held several command, staff and instrumental appointments and had extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and northeast India.
For his distinguished and illustrious service in the Army, Chauhan was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.