Outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Bipin Rawat, who will be taking charge as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on January 1, 2020, thanked the officers and soldiers of the Indian Army for their support during his tenure.
While addressing reporters on December 31, he said, “As I demit the office of the Chief of Army Staff today, I wish to convey my gratitude to the soldiers, rank and file of our Army, who have stood steadfast under challenging circumstances and performed their duty diligently.”
“A Chief of Army Staff cannot work alone. It’s the teamwork which makes the office so high,” he said, before thanking the soldiers once again and signing off.
He was given a farewell guard of honour after he paid tributes at the National War Memorial in New Delhi.
General Rawat was appointed CDS on Monday (December 30) to ensure convergence in the functioning of the three defence forces — the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force — and bolster the country’s military prowess.
He will also be heading the department of military affairs, which was formed recently. “The position Chief of Army Staff has many responsibilities. Till now, I was concentrating on my obligations as Chief of Army Staff,” he said and added that he would plan a strategy for his new role after he took over.
He also conveyed best wishes to his successor Manoj Naravane. “I convey my best wishes for successful innings to General Naravane, who will be taking charge as the 28th Chief of Army Staff. He is a competent officer,” Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari raised apprehensions on General Rawat’s appointment. He said the government had started on a ‘wrong foot.’
“With great regret and fullest of responsibility may I say that the government has started on a very wrong foot with regard to the CDS. Time alone, unfortunately, will reveal the implications of this decision,” he said on Twitter.
He also asked why the appointment of a CDS was fraught with difficulties and ambiguities. “What implications does the nomenclature Principal Military Advisor to Defence Minister have in relation to the three service chiefs in terms of Military advice tendered to the government? Will the advice of the CDS override the advice of the respective Service Chiefs?” he asked.
Tewari also wondered if the CDS, as Permanent Chairperson of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, would outrank the three service Chiefs. “Would the three Chiefs report to the Defence Minister through the Defence Secretary or through the CDS now?” he asked.
“What will be the position of CDS qua Defence Secretary? Would the Defence Secretary in terms of Rule 11 of Transaction of Business Rules continue to be the administrative head of the Defence Ministry? What is the remit/mandate of the proposed Department of Military Affairs?” he further questioned.