New Delhi: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday expressed his gratitude to soldiers and their kin as he demitted office after a grand farewell ceremony. General Rawat will officially take over as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), who will act as the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters relating to tri-services, on Wednesday.

Speaking to the press, General Rawat said: “Today as I demit the office of Chief of Army staff, I wish to convey my gratitude to the soldiers, rank and file of Indian Army who have stood steadfast under challenging circumstances.”

He also conveyed his best wishes to General Manoj Naravane, who will be assuming the office as the 28th Army chief, for a successful innings.

On his new role as CDS, General Rawat said he would chalk out his strategy after taking over. “I have just retired today. The position Chief of Army Staff has many responsibilities. Till now, I was concentrating on my obligations as Chief of Army Staff. I will plan a strategy for my new role after I take over,” he told reporters at the National War Memorial.

On Monday, the government decided to appoint General Rawat as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a Defence Ministry order read.

Rawat was commissioned into the Army in December 1978 and was serving as Chief of Army Staff since January 1, 2017. His tenure saw a series of reforms in the 1.3 million-strong force besides following a policy of “hot pursuit” in dealing with cross border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

A key mandate of the CDS will be to facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about joint-ness in operations, including through establishment of joint/theatre commands.

Officials said bringing about ‘joint-ness’ in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance of the three services within three years will be another major mandate of the CDS.

The tri-service agencies, organisations and commands relating to cyber and space will be under the command of the CDS and he will also function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.

The CDS will also be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by the defence minister and Defence Planning Committee chaired by the NSA.

A high-level committee set up to examine the gaps in the country’s security system in the wake of the Kargil war in 1999 had called for appointment of a CDS as a single-point military adviser to the defence minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the creation of the CDS post in his Independence Day speech this year. General Rawat assumed charge as Chief of Army Staff on December 31, 2016. He was to retire on Tuesday from the service. Before becoming the Army Chief, he handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the Northeast.

Last week, Gen Bipin Rawat drew criticism from the opposition parties after he publicly criticised people leading protests over the new citizenship law, saying leadership is not about guiding masses to carry out arson and violence across the country.

There were also sharp reactions from activists and military veterans who accused him of making political remarks, thereby compromising the long-held convention in the Army of not wading into political matters.

In his three-year tenure as Army Chief, he has faced allegations of not remaining politically neutral. An alumnus of St Edward School, Shimla, and the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, he was commissioned into the 11th Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in December 1978.

He has has vast experience in operations across a wide spectrum of conflict and terrain profiles. He commanded an Infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector, an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, and a Corps in the North East.

He had also commanded a multinational brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). Gen Rawat is a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command and National Defence College courses and, has attended the Command and General Staff Course at Fort Leavenworth, the US.

Indian Army congratulated Gen Rawat on being appointed as the first Chief of the Defence Staff. “It is a proud & historical moment. The appointment would bring in enhanced #Synergy #Jointness #Interoperability in the Armed forces,” the Army tweeted.

Source: News 18

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