By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN,16 Aug: After the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement during his Independence Day speech yesterday that India would soon have its first chief of defence staff, speculation in this respect has already started. Sources claim that General Bipin Rawat was likely to be appointed as the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). At present, Airforce Chief Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa is the senior-most among all the chiefs of the defence wings. He is six months senior to General Bipin Rawat . While Dhanoa joined services in June 1978, Rawat joined the Army in December 1978. On the other hand, the current Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh joined the Navy in June 1980. There is hardly any doubt about the fact that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will be chosen from the present chiefs of the three wings of defence services, namely the Ar my, Navy and Airforce. It may be pertinent to point out here that under the present arrangements, Chiefs of Staff are the authority for advising the Defence Minister and normally through him the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs on all military matters which require ministerial consideration. The Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) is composed of Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) and Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) besides Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (CIDS). Currently Lieutenant General PS Rajeshwar, holds the charge of Chief of Integrated Defence Staff. Being the senior most member of the COSC, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa is the current head of COSC. That does make him the most eligible person to be appointed as first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). However, Dhanoa is retiring at the end of the next month after a very distinguished three decade long career.Born on 7 September, 1957, he will be 62 next month, the age of superannuation and by the time of his retirement, the post of CDS may not come into existence since many formalities have to be completed to create the post. General Bipin Rawat is also slated to retire on 31 December on account of completing three year period as CoAS and the process of vetting for selection of next army chief has already begun. Admiral Karambir Singh is just 59 at present and the youngest among the three chiefs. The present rules say that the chief of any of the wings of the defence forces is appointed for a maximum period of 3 years or till he achieves 62 years of age, whichever is earlier. Sources in the defence ministry however claim that the post of Chief of Defence Staff was likely to be created well before October thus making General Rawat as the most eligible person to hold the post. Since, Rawat, who hails from Uttarakhand, is considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who also hails from Uttarakhand, speculation is rife that Gen Rawat may be appointed as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the month of October. It is not clear if there will be a fixed tenure for the post of Chief of Defence Staff. If that is the case, General Rawat in case of his appointment to the post may be given an extension with a fixed term of one or two years. It is also not clear yet if the new post will carry four stars five stars rank. Presently in India, only the rank of Field Marshal carries five stars but this rank is not conferred to serving generals. There have been only two Field Marshals in India so far, Sam Manekshaw and KM Carriyappa. It may also be recalled that there used to be a post of Commander in Chief in the past but the post was abolished in the year 1955 by the then Nehru Government!