New CDS a border expert, collector of masks, keen golfer
The 61-year-old general is senior to the three serving chiefs — General Manoj Pande, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, and Admiral R Hari Kumar
The country’s new chief of defence staff (CDS), Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan (retd), is known to be an authority on border-related issues, has one of the best collections of masks from around the world in the armed forces, and has a solid golf swing, according to people who have known him from his younger days.
Chauhan is also an author — his first book Aftermath of a Nuclear Attack was published in 2010, and he has just completed another book, Military Geography of India’s Northern Borders.
The 61-year-old general is senior to the three serving chiefs — General Manoj Pande, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, and Admiral R Hari Kumar. He is from the same regiment as his predecessor General Bipin Rawat — 11 Gorkha Rifles. Chauhan is from the 6th battalion of 11 GR, while Rawat was from 5/11 GR. New rules announced by the govt in June state that the service of CDS can be extended to 65 years. If that be the case, Chauhan will work with six service chiefs to power the theaterisation drive.
“Anil is a one of finest military leaders, and has a reputation for getting things done. He is taking on a demanding appointment and will live up to everyone’s expectations. He is mature, intelligent and focused,” said military affairs expert Lieutenant General Shokin Chauhan (retd) who is also from 6/11 GR and has known General Anil Chauhan for almost 45 years.
General Shokin Chauhan said the new CDS understands India’s border issues better than most others, with consensus-building one of his strengths, and gave his vote of confidence that the government has picked the right man as Rawat’s successor. He was good at basketball in his younger days, plays golf when he gets the time, and his collection of masks depicting different global cultures is outstanding, he added.
Born on May 18, 1961, Anil Chauhan was commissioned into the 11 GR in 1981.
He comes with rich operational experience. Chauhan was the Eastern Army commander from September 2019 and held the charge till his retirement in May 2021. He has also served as director general of military operations (DGMO), commanded a corps in the North-East and a division in Kashmir during his 40-year military service. He has also served as a United Nations peacekeeper in Angola.
“Apart from his deep knowledge and in-depth expertise in border-related issues, he is also a counterterrorism expert. He brings a lot of experience to the table,” said a senior serving officer, who asked not to be named.
As officers from the same regiment, Chauhan was known to be close to Rawat who held him in high esteem and valued his expertise, said another officer.
When an army base along the China border in Arunachal Pradesh and a key road that supports military movement near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were named after Rawat earlier this month, Chauhan flew down from Delhi to attend the ceremony.
The Kibithu military camp, which looks out over Chinese deployments in the Rima-Tatu area across LAC, was renamed General Bipin Rawat Military Garrison, as was the 22km road stretch linking the base to Walong where outnumbered and outgunned Indian soldiers halted the Chinese war machine during the 1962 war.
Chauhan will spearhead the theaterisation drive to best utilise the military’s resources for future wars and operations. The drive slowed down after Rawat’s death and the government will now expect Chauhan to provide impetus to the long-awaited military reform by building consensus among the three services.
“Chauhan is a soft-spoken man but when he talks, people listen,” said a third officer.