CDS General Bipin Rawat with the NCC cadets at the National War Memorial on October 21 (All images courtesy: ADGPI)
A former Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat became India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on January 1, 2020. As the CDS, his main role was to be the Principal Military Advisor to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on all Tri-Services matters.
He also headed the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), playing a key role in ensuring optimum utilisation of allocated budget and also ushering in more synergy in procurement, training and operations of the Services through joint planning and integration. Facilitating indigenisation of weapons and equipment to the maximum extent possible, he formulated the overall defence acquisition plan for the three Services.
The Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat along with the Chief of the Army Staff, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh and the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS. Bhadauria after the ceremonial Guard of Honour, in New Delhi on January 1, 2020
Just after assuming charge, General Rawat had vowed to work to create more synergy among the three Services.
"The CDS is mandated to facilitate integration, ensure best economical use of resources allocated to the Armed Forces and bring uniformity in the procurement procedure. I want to assure you that the Army, Navy and Air Force will work as a team and the CDS will ensure integration among these," he said on his first day as the CDS.
An alumnus of Shimla's Saint Edward School, the National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College, Wellington; Higher Command, National Defence College, General Rawat also attended the Command and General Staff Course at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, United States.
It was in December 1978 when General Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles from Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where he was awarded the 'Sword of Honour' - the most coveted recognition that a Gentleman Cadet (GC) aspires to possess.
The CDS had a vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter insurgency operations. During his distinguished career in the Army, General Rawat commanded an Infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Eastern Sector; a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, a Corps in the Eastern theatre and the Southern Command. He has tenanted instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and at Army War College, Mhow.
General Rawat also held important staff appointments at Directorate General of Military Operations and Military Secretary’s Branch at Army HQ besides being a Major General General Staff (MGGS) at HQ Eastern Command.
The CDS commanded a Multinational Brigade, in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) and, whilst serving with the United Nations, was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.
As an Army Commander, he commanded a theatre of operations along the Western Front and was appointed the Vice Chief of the Army Staff (VCOAS).
On 31st December 2016, General Dalbir Singh handed over the baton to General Bipin Rawat who took over as the 27th Chief of the Army Staff.
In a span of over four decades in the Army, General Rawat had been awarded several gallantry and distinguished service awards, including the UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM, VSM, COAS Commendation on two occasions and the Army Commander's Commendation.
Academically inclined, he continued to author numerous articles on national security and leadership and was also awarded an M.Phil in Defence Studies from Madras University. He had a diploma in management and another diploma in computer studies. General Bipin Rawat also completed his research on military media strategic studies and was awarded Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D) from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut in 2011.
On October 31, while delivering All India Radio's prestigious Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture, CDS Rawat had dwelled on ‘The Role of Indian Armed Forces in Nation Building’.
The Chief of Defence Staff asserted that India's unity in diversity shall remain intact due to the virtues of sacrifice, loyalty and discipline of the Indian Armed Forces.
He highlighted that, in consonance with the Bhagwad Gita which says, "Considering your own duty, you should not waiver", all cadets of IMA, before conclusion of their training, pledge allegiance to the oath that emphasises that the safety, honour and welfare of the nation is sacrosanct, followed by the honour, welfare and comfort of the men under command whereas individual ease, comfort and safety comes last, always and every time at the moment of reckoning.
CDS General Bipin Rawat with Subedar Neeraj Chopra after latter's phenomenal performance in Tokyo Olympic Games
On another occasion a few years ago, while interacting with the youth of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh as an Army chief, General Rawat had urged every Indian to rise above the "idea of microscopic identities".
"You want to feel the oneness, join the Army, and see how we people, from different backgrounds, live together as Indians. Remember first, we are all Indians. We are proud of that, and the nation must come first. Then we can learn to live together," General Rawat had said in 2018.