Fitness and medical history will be key-criteria for choosing the next Chief of Defence Staff, a post vacant since General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash last December. The Centre is examining records of close to 30 serving and retired officers ahead of appointing the next CDS.
Medical history of retired officers in particular will be closely perused. The medical records of serving officers are available with the government. The list of officers whose details have been sought include the five senior-most officers of the three forces – three serving chiefs of service from the Army, Air Force and Navy – besides 12 serving officers of the commander-in-chief rank.
The government has also sought records of all officers of the rank of chiefs of service and commander-in-chiefs who have retired since January 2020. Several prominent officers who recently retired are on the list under consideration. They include retired service chiefs like Admiral KB Singh, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Gen MM Naravane.
Commander-in-Chief level officers, who have retired at a three-star rank after leading a military command, will form a major part of the list under examination. They include former Northern Army Commander Ranbir Singh, Western Air Command Chief Amit Dev, former Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen CP Mohanty and former Southern Naval Command Chief Admiral AK Chawla.
The broad list is expected to be pruned after a careful look at the records, particularly for cardiac related issues. The position of CDS was created in December 2019 to meet the long standing recommendation of the Kargil review committee report for single-point military advice to the leadership. Gen Rawat took over as the first CDS in the same month, as part of wide sweeping military reforms initiated by the government. The biggest task entrusted to him was to reorganise the armed forces into integrated military commands, each of which were to be tasked to a particular territory and would pool resources of the three armed forces.