Shock to the Indian Army in the midst of difficult times

The death of General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Defence Staff of Indian armed forces, comes at a time when India and China tense over the border issue.

The body of Mr. Rawat, 63, was transferred to the capital New Delhi on December 9, a day after the helicopter crash that killed 13 people including his wife. Rawat’s funeral was held on December 10.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP ) commented that the death of Mr. Rawat was a great loss to the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and affected the ability of the Indian military to react to the potential actions of its neighbors in the disputed border area.

“Mr Rawat’s death comes at a difficult time that could not have been more difficult after 20 months of border tension with China,” said strategist Brahma Chellaney.

General Bipin Rawat during an test flight in Tejas fighter aircraft
General Bipin Rawat during an test flight in Tejas fighter aircraft

On Twitter, DM Rajnath Singh wrote: “Very saddened by the sudden death of General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other members of the armed forces in the unfortunate plane crash in Tamil Nadu. The passing. His is an irreparable loss to our armed forces and our country.”

Prime Minister Modi selected Mr. Rawat to be the head of the armed forces in 2016. Three years later, he was appointed Chief of Staff of Defense Staff Indian Armed forces, leading the combined force of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

During four decades of military service, Mr. Rawat commanded troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and the Indian-administered Kashmir region. In the 1980s, he led the army in skirmishes against Chinese forces.

Mr. Rawat (left) and Prime Minister Modi
Mr. Rawat (left) and Prime Minister Modi

Mr. Rawat was killed by helicopter crash near the Defense Service Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington to lecture on the needs, methods, and usefulness of civilian-military integration and the creation of total power through the amalgamation of the armed services.

According to SCMP, Mr. Rawat’s death may not interrupt the reform process of the Indian army.

In 2016, New Delhi claimed that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had copied the military’s geographical dispersion model by reorganizing its seven military regions and three naval fleets into five command posts. China’s success in this initiative has raised eyebrows that Indian military reformers have also taken steps to establish joint commands.

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