Ex-chiefs and their seconds-in-command have to be less than 62 years of age to qualify for CDS post

The Ministry of Defence has issued a notification enabling retired three-star generals from Army, Air Force and Navy to become eligible for the post of chief of defence staff (CDS) if they are not older than 62.

The notification on Monday enlarges the eligible pool for recruitment to the post lying vacant since the tragic death of General Bipin Rawat in an helicopter crash on December 8, 2021. The Ministry’s move, however, rules out just retired chiefs of the three forces since all of them have crossed the age ceiling.

But, the buzz is that if the government goes for serving chiefs then it may be either Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar or chief of air staff Air Marshal VK Chaudhari. Army chief General Manoj Pande is the junior most among the three though they have passed out from the same National Defence Academy 61 st Course and were commissioned in January 1979.

The Ministry of Defence amended the service rules of Army, Air Force and Navy, inserting the same clause of making retired chiefs and their seconds-in-command in the armed forces eligible for elevation for the top most military assignment.

‘Role may be redefined’

For instance, the notification for Army stated; “The Central Government may, if considered necessary, in public interest so to do, appoint as Chief of Defence Staff, an officer who is serving as Lieutenant General or General but has not attained the age of sixty-two-years on the date of his appointment. Provided that the Central Government may, if considered necessary, in public interest, so to do, extend the service of the Chief of Defence Staff for such period as it may deem necessary subject to a maximum age of sixty-five years”. This has been inserted after sub-rule (4) of rule 16A of the Army Rules, 1954, said the MoD notification.

It is widely believed that the role of the CDS may be redefined by the government – which was one of the reasons, cited Ministry sources, for the prolonged delay in taking a decision to fill up the vacancy. Former CDS General Rawat had complete control of the tri-services which is due for restructuring and creation of theatre commands to face future conflicts. The government may soon announce a name for the new CDS, but will he be the single point of command and control, is what officers retired and serving are keen to know.

Tour on duty scheme

The Defence ministry may also make public on Wednesday its ‘Tour on Duty’ scheme of attracting talented manpower to armed forces below the officers category. The TOD is aimed at resolving the issue of shortages of personnel in short term and reduce the burden of pay rise and pension on public exchequer. In this scheme, youngsters, dubbed as Agniveers, will be recruited for three years on attractive pay packages including medical benefits, said ministry sources. They will get a pay out of at least Rs 10 lakh along with priority in recruitment in government jobs including in central armed police forces like BSF, CRPF and CISF, ministry sources added.

Published on June 07, 2022