New Delhi: An Indian Air Force helicopter carrying Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and several other offficers met with an accident on Wednesday near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, killing 13 out of 14 onboard. The Mi-17V-5 helicopter crashed reportedly due to low visibility due to foggy conditions. However, the exact reason behind the crash is yet to be ascertained.
As the nation prays for the departed souls, here’s what we know about India’s first Chief Defence of Staff:
General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first Chief of Defence Staff of India and assumed office from January 1, 2020. Prior to taking over as the CDS, he served as 57th and last Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee as well as 26th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.
On December 17, 2016, he was appointed as the 26th Chief of the Army Staff, superseding two more senior Lieutenant Generals, Praveen Bakshi and PM Hariz.He took office as the Army Chief on December 31, 2016, following his predecessor General Dalbir Singh Suhag’s retirement.
Rawat was commissioned into the 5th battalion of 11 Gorkha Rifles on December 16, 1978, the same unit as his father.
He commanded a company in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir as a Major. As a Colonel, he commanded his battalion, the 5th battalion 11 Gorkha Rifles, in the Eastern sector along the Line of Actual Control at Kibithu.
Promoted to the rank of Brigadier, he commanded 5 Sector of Rashtriya Rifles in Sopore. He then commanded a multinational Brigade in a Chapter VII mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) where he was twice awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation.
After promotion to Major General, Rawat took over as the General Officer Commanding 19th Infantry Division (Uri). As a Lieutenant General, he commanded III Corps, headquartered in Dimapur before taking over the Southern Army in Pune.
He also held staff assignments which included an instructional tenure at the Indian Military Academy (Dehradun), General Staff Officer Grade 2 at the Military Operations Directorate, logistics staff officer of a Reorganised Army Plains Infantry Division (RAPID) in central India, Colonel Military Secretary and Deputy Military Secretary in the Military Secretary’s Branch and Senior Instructor in the Junior Command Wing.
He also served as the Major General General Staff (MGGS) of the Eastern Command. After being promoted to the Army Commander grade, Rawat assumed the post of General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) Southern Command on January 1. 2016.
After a short stint, he assumed the post of Vice Chief of Army Staff on September 1, 2016.
He was the third Gorkha officer to become the Chief of the Army Staff, after Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and General Dalbir Singh Suhag.
General Bipin Rawat has been conferred several Presidential Awards which include the PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, YSM, SM and the VSM.
General Rawat was in 2019 inducted to the United States Army Command and General Staff College International Hall of Fame.
He was also the honorary General of Nepalese Army.
Rawat completed his schooling from Cambrian Hall School in Dehradun and the St. Edward’s School, Shimla. He then joined the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.
Rawat was a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington and the Higher Command Course at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
He was born on March 16, 1958 in Pauri, Uttarakhand in a Hindu Garhwali Rajput family, which had been serving in the Indian Army for multiple generations. His father Laxman Singh Rawat was from Sainj village of the Pauri Garhwal district and rose to the rank of Lieutenant General. His mother was from the Uttarkashi district and was the daughter of Kishan Singh Parmar, the ex-Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Uttarkashi