Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (retd), a former eastern Army commander and director general of military operations, was on Wednesday appointed as India's new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), more than nine months after the post fell vacant following the death of Gen Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash.
A decorated Army officer and a China expert, 61-year-old Chauhan will also function as Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs with effect from the date of his assumption of charge and until further orders.
He was the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of the Army during the Balakot air strikes in 2019 when Indian airplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan in response to the Pulwama terror strike.
Lt Gen Chauhan (retd) will assume the rank of the four-star General once he takes charge as India's second Chief of Defence Staff.
He will be the first retired three-star officer to return to service in four-star rank.
After his retirement as the eastern Army Commander last year, he has been serving as the military adviser in the National Security Council Secretariat headed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
"The government has decided to appoint Lt General Anil Chauhan (Retired) as the next Chief of Defence Staff who shall also function as Secretary to Government of India, Department of Military Affairs with effect from the date of his assumption of charge and until further orders," the defence ministry said in a statement.
On September 10, Lt Gen Chauhan (retd) attended a ceremony to rename the strategically key Kibithu military garrison on the banks of Lohit Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal Pradesh after first CDS Gen Rawat.
Born on May 18, 1961, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in 1981.
In a career spanning over nearly 40 years, Lt Gen Anil Chauhan (retd) held several command, staff and instrumental appointments and had extensive experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast India.
Lt Gen Chauhan retired from the service in May last year when he was serving as the eastern Army Commander.
As the Eastern Army Commander, he played a significant role in bolstering India's overall combat readiness along the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim sectors.
He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
In the rank of Maj General, the officer had commanded an Infantry Division in the critical Baramulla sector in the Northern Command.
Later as Lt General, he commanded a corps in the Northeast and subsequently went to become the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command from September 2019 and held the charge until his retirement from the service in May 2021.
In addition to these command appointments, the officer also tenanted important staff appointments including the charge of Director General of Military Operations.
Earlier, the officer had also served as a United Nations mission to Angola.
As CDS, Lt Gen Chauhan (retd) will face the challenge of implementing the government's ambitious plan to ensure tri-services synergy through setting up of theatre commands.
For his distinguished and illustrious service in the Army, Lt General Anil Chauhan (retired) was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.
The post of CDS has been lying vacant since the death of Gen Rawat along with his wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 others in a helicopter crash on December 8 last year.
On January 1 2020, Gen Rawat took charge as India's first CDS with a mandate to bring convergence in the functioning of the Army, the Navy and the Indian Air Force and bolster the country's overall military prowess.
Another key mandate of the CDS was to facilitate the restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through the establishment of theatre commands.
In June, the government amended rules paving the way for appointment of any serving or retired Lt General, Air Marshal and Vice Admiral under the age of 62 to the post of CDS.
The change in rules allowed three-star officers to become the CDS along with serving chiefs of the three services.
However, the age limit of 62 years for officers to be considered for the post of CDS ruled out a number of officers.
While the age-limit for the three Service chiefs is 62 years of age or three years of service, whichever is earlier, the age limit for the CDS is 65 years of age with no fixed tenure defined.