Nearly six months after India lost its first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat to a helicopter crash, the country may soon get his successor, top government sources said

Sources said a top-level meeting will soon take place with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to decide the new name. The development comes a day after the defence ministry issued a notification to amend regulations of three armed forces related to the post of CDS. According to the new guideline, any serving or retired three-star officer below 62 will be considered for the post.

The scope of eligibility has been expanded to include retired or serving officers of the rank of Vice Admiral and Air Marshal.

The CDS is the single point of contact for the government to give military advice, and has other responsibilities such as presiding over planned theatre of command. 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.

On January 1, 2020, Gen Bipin 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.

Gen Rawat was killed in a helicopter crash in Coonoor on December 8, 2021, along with his wife Madhulika Rawat and 12 other defence personnel. The post of CDS has been lying vacant since.

The Tri-Service Inquiry Report submitted to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has reportedly indicated that a sudden cloud cover over Coonoor led to the “unintentional collision with a mountain” that killed those on board.