India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat died in a tragic helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor on Wednesday. His wife and 11 others also died in the crash that took place between Coimbatore and Sulur. As India mourns the loss of Rawat in an untimely manner, here’s a look at the officer’s prolific career:
India’s First CDS
Days after the government announced the creation of the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), retiring Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was named the first tri-service chief on December 30 with effect from December 31, 2019.
General Bipin Rawat was the first sitting Chief of Army Staff to hold the position. The government initially amended Army rules to raise the superannuation age from 62 to 65 years, paving the way for the appointment. The CDS serves as a single point of contact for the government on military matters, with the primary goal of integrating the three services — Army, Navy, and Air Force. Rawat also served as the permanent Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee (COSC).
On December 17, 2016, General Bipin Rawat took over as the 27th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag (COAS). Rawat, an NDA and IMA alumnus, was commissioned into the Indian Army in December 1978 in the same unit as his father, the fifth battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles. The first CDS is a counterinsurgency veteran who has served in some of India’s most difficult terrains, including the northern and eastern commands.
Held Several Positions, Was Also Member of UN Peacekeeping Force
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 during his four decades of service. He has also served as a member of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and led a multinational brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Rawat rose through the ranks to become the Vice-Chief of Army Staff before becoming the fourth officer from the Gorkha Brigade to be appointed COAS.
Instrumental in Reducing Militancy in Northeast
He was instrumental in reducing militancy in the Northeast, with one of his career highlights being the Indian Army’s successful response to an ambush by NSCN-K militants in Myanmar in 2015. Under Rawat’s supervision, the mission was carried out from the operation command of the Dimapur-based III Corps.
Helped Planned 2016 Surgical Strike
He was also involved in the planning for the 2016 surgical strikes, which saw the Indian Army cross the Line of Control into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Rawat, it was reported, was keeping an eye on the situation from South Block in New Delhi.
General Rawat has received the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal, Yudh Seva Medal, and Sena Medal for his service.
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