The highest authority of the Indian Armed forces is the President of India, all three forces are headed and led by their respective chiefs.
The history of the Indian Army has witnessed some great leaders and their brave stories fill our hearts with pride and patriotism even today.
The Head/ Commander and the highest-ranking military officer in the Indian Army are known as Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
Brief History About the Authority
The rank of Commander-in-Chief was established in 1748 by the East India Company.
After 1857 and till 1947, the Commander-in-Chief was taken as the supreme authority of the British Indian Army. The designation remained unchanged till 1955.
It was in 1955, through the C-I-C (Commander-in-Chief), Change of Designation Act of the Indian Parliament, that the office of Commander-in-Chief was replaced with Chief of Army Staff and designated the President of India as the Commander-in-Chief.
The office of COAS is based at South Block of the Central Secretariat at Raisina Hill, New Delhi.
Appointment of any General as the chief is made by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) and the person so appointed can serve as the COAS for three years or till the age of 62.
Current Chief of Army Staff
Manoj Mukund Naravane
General Manoj Mukund Naravane was born in the Marathi family. His father got retired as a former officer in the Indian Air force from the rank of Wing Commander and his mother was an announcer at All India Radio. In June 1980 he was commissioned into 7th Battalion The Sikh Light Infantry.
General Manoj Mukund Naravane (PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC) born on 22 April 1960. He is a Four-Star General of the Indian Army. On 31 December 2019, he is appointed as the 28th Chief of the Army Staff (COAS).
Before his appointment as the COAS, General Manoj Mukund Naravane has served as the 40th Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) of the Indian Army, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of Eastern Command and General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Army Training Command.
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Commander- in – Chief of India
Following is the list of all the appointees to the positions of Commander-in-Chief and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) since the independence of India till today: –
If you want to know about other Indian Army Ranks rather than Chief of Army staff, read the article on Indian Army Ranks.
1. General Rob Lockhart
General Sir Rob Lockhart (23 June 1893 – 11 September 1981) played an important role as the senior British officer during the Second World War. He took his education at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Indian Army as a second lieutenant on 22 January 1913.
Climbing his way up the ladder, it was on 15th August 1947 that Lockhart was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. He left the office of C-I-C on 31 December 1947.
2. General Roy Bucher
General Sir (Francis Robert) Roy Bucher (31 August 1895 – 05 January 1980) was the second and last British soldier to hold the leading post of the Indian Army. He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and commissioned into the Indian Army as a second lieutenant on 15 August 1915.
After serving a few wars and many regions throughout the country, he was made General Officer Commander-in-Chief of Eastern Command in India on 04 August 1946. Later, on 01 January 1948, he became the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. He held the office till 15 January 1949.
3. Field Mashal K.M. Cariappa
Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa was born on 29 December 1898. He lost his life on 15 May 1993. He was the first Indian to hold the post of Commander-in-Chief. Along with Sam Manekshaw, he is one of the only two Indian Army Officers to achieve the five-star rank of Field Marshal.
He joined the British Indian Army soon after the end of the first world war. Owing to his exemplary and distinguished military career, he became the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army on 16 January 1949, before which he also served as the Commander of the Indian army’s Eastern and Western Command. He served for 3 years and 364 days, leaving the position on 14 January 1953.
List of All Chief of Army Staff (COAS)
Following is the list of all the appointees to the positions of Commander-in-Chief and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) since the independence of India till today: –
1. General Rajendrasinhji Jadeja
General Maharaj Shri Rajendrasinhji Jadeja (15 June 1899 – 01 January 1964) was the second Indian to become the Commander-in-Chief after field marshal Cariappa and the first Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army.
He was born in the Kathiawar region of Gujarat and belonged to the ruling Yaduvamshi Rajput dynasty of Jamnagar. Having firm determination to pursue a military career, he joined the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.
He was commissioned as the second lieutenant into the Indian Army in 1921. He was the first Indian appointed to serve as Military Attaché to Washington DC in 1945-46.
As the senior-most serving officer in the army, succeeding field marshal Cariappa, General Rajendrasinhji was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief on 14 January 1953. In 1955, his designation changed from Commander-in-Chief to Chief of Army Staff (COAS). He served for 2 years and 77 days as the C-I-C and 43 days as the COAS, leaving the office on 14 May 1955.
2. General S.M. Shrinagesh
General Satyawant Mallanna Shrinagesh was born on 11 May 1903. He was the second officer to serve as the Chief of Army Staff. Born in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, he did his studies from the West Buckland School in England and later went to the University of Cambridge. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 29 August 1923 from Sandhurst.
He was appointed as the Chief on 14 May 1955. He served as the Chief for 1 year and 357 days and completing 34 years of his military career, he retired on 07 May 1957. After his retirement, he also served as the Governor of three states – Assam (twice), Andhra Pradesh and Mysore.
3. General K.S. Thimayya
General Kodendera Subayya Thimayya (31 March 1906 – 17 December 1965) was the third officer to be appointed as the Chief of Army Staff. He was born in Madikeri, Karnataka and was sent to the Prince of Wales Royal Military College and later completing his training from Sandhurst, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 04 February 1926.
Owing to his contribution during the post-independence period, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan for civil service. He was made the Chief on 07 May 1957 and serving for 4 years he left the office on 07 May 1961.
4. General Pran Nath Thapar
General Pran Nath Thapar (23 May 1906 – 23 June 1975) was the fourth Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was born in Punjab. After completing his graduation from Government College, Lahore, he took his military training from Sandhurst, passing out on 04 February 1926 as the second lieutenant.
He was made the Chief of Army Staff on 08 May 1961. It was after the dismal failure during the Sino-Indian war that he resigned in disgrace on 19 November 1962 after serving as the chief for 1 year and 195 days.
5. General Jayanto Nath Chaudhari
General Jayanto Nath Chaudhari (10 June 1908 – 06 April 1983) served as the fifth Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was born into a brahmin family known as the Chaudhari’s of Haripur, in Bangladesh. He studies at the St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata and in London before coming to the Royal military college, Sandhurst.
Jayanto served as the Military Governor of Hyderabad (1948 – 1949). He was commissioned as the second lieutenant on 02 February 1928. After the resignation of General Thapar, Jayanto was appointed as the COAS on 20 November 1962. He left the office on 17 June 1966 serving for 3 years 199 days.
General Chaudhari was also awarded Padma Vibhushan for his exceptional services to the nation.
6. General P.P. Kumaramangalam
General Paramasiva Prabhakar Kumaramanglam ( 01 July 1913 – 13 March 2000) was appointed as the sixth Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was born in Tamil Nadu to the former Chief Minister of Madras Presidency.
After completing his secondary education from Eton college, he got commissioned as the second lieutenant on 31 August 1933 from the Royal Military College, Woolwich. During the II world war, in 1942, he was taken PoW (Prisoner of War) and could return to India in 1945 after the war ended.
After holding many prominent positions, he became the first Indian gunner officer and paratrooper to hold the position of COAS on 08 June 1966. He served for 2 years and 364 days and left office 07 June 1969. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his exemplary contribution to the nation.
7. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw was born on 03 April 1914 and died on 27 June 2008. He was popularly known as Sam Bahadur. After Cariappa, Manekshaw is the only Indian officer to be promoted to the Rank of Field Marshal.
He was born in a Parsi family in Amritsar, Punjab. Manekshaw was one of 22 cadets of the first batch of IMA (Indian Military Academy) and was commissioned as the second lieutenant on 01 February 1935.
After General Kumaramanglam’s retirement, Manekshaw being the senior-most army commander was made the Chief of Army Staff on 08 June 1969. He retired on 15 January 1973 after serving for 3 years 221 days.
8. General G.G. Bewoor
General Gopal Gurunath Bewoor (11 August 1916 – 24 October 1989) was the eighth Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was born in Seoni, Madhya Pradesh and got his education from the Prince of Wales Royal Military College, Dehradun. Later from IMA, he was commissioned as the second lieutenant on 15 July 1937.
Succeeding Field Marshal Manekshaw, he became the Chief of Army Staff on 15 January 1973 and held the office for 2 years 135 days till his retirement on 31 May 1975.
9. Tapishwar Narain Raina
General Tapishwar Narain Raina MVC was born on 24 January 1921. He died on 19th May 1980. He was the ninth Chief of Army Staff. T.N. Raina completed his education in Ludhiana.
After retirement, he was appointed as the High Commissioner of India to Canada. He received the third highest civilian honor of India, the Padma Bhushan.
10. General Om Prakash Malhotra
General Om Prakash Malhotra (06 August 1922 – 29 December 2015) served as the tenth Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was born and did his schooling in Kashmir. He also went to Government College, Lahore before going to IMA.
He was commissioned as the second lieutenant in November 1941. He succeeded General Raina to be the COAS on 31 May 1978. He left office, after serving for 2 years 364 days on 31 May 1981
He was also awarded the Param Vishist Seva Medal for “Service of the most exceptional Order”.
11. General K.V. Krishna Rao
General Kotikalapudi Venkata Krishna Rao (16 July 1923 – 30 January 2016) was the eleventh Chief of Army Staff. He was born in Vijayawada. On 29th August 1942, he received an emergency commission as a second lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Mahar regiment.
He was a founder and an instructor at the National Defence Academy during 1949-51. After serving as the General officer C-I-C of Western command, it was on 01 June 1981 that he was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff.
He retired from this office on 31 July 1983 after serving for 1 year 364 days. Later, he also served as the Governor of Nagaland, Mizoram and Jammu & Kashmir.
12. General Arun Shridhar Vaidya
General Arunkumar Shridhar Vaidya (27 January 1926 – 10 August 1986) was made the twelfth Chief of Army Staff. He was born in Bombay and joined the army in 1944. He received commission on 20 October 1945.
On 31st July 1983, General Vaidya was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff. He completed over 40 years of service in the army and was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan. He retired on 31 January 1986.
13. General Krishnaswamy Sundarji
General Krishnaswamy Sundarji was born on 28 April 1928. He died on 08 February 1999. He was the thirteenth Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was born in Madras and joined the British Indian Army in 1945 during the Second World War.
He was commissioned as the second lieutenant from Mahar Regiment on 28 April 1948. In 1986, he was promoted to General and appointed as the Chief of Army Staff on 01 February. He left office 31 May 1988 after 2 years 120 days.
14. General Vishwanath Sharma
General Vishwanath Sharma, born on 04 June 1930, was the fourteenth Chief of Army Staff. He was the first COAS who began his military career post-independence. He joined the course at IMA, Dehradun and was commissioned on 04 June 1950.
He took over as the Chief of Army Staff on 01 May 1988 and left office on 30 June 1933 after serving for 2 years 29 days.
15. General Sunith Francis Rodrigues
General Sunith Francis Rodrigues, born on 19 September 1933, was the Fifteenth Chief of Army Staff. He was born and educated in Bombay. Joining IMA in 1949, he was commissioned on 28 December 1952.
After serving as the General Officer C-I-C for Central and Western command, he was appointed as the Chief on 01 July 1990 and left office after 2 years 364 days on 30 June 1994. He was known as a thinker and a strategist.
16. General Bipin Chandra Joshi
General Bipin Chandra Joshi (05 December 1935 – 19 November 1994) was the sixteenth Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was born in Pithoragarh, Uttrakhand. He was commissioned on 04 December 1954 into the 64-cavalry regiment.
He was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff on 01 July 1993 and held office for 1 year 141 days till 19 November 1994. He established the Army Institute of Technology in Pune in 1994 and died of cardiac arrest in the same year. He was due to retire in 1995.
17. General Shankar Roychowdhury
General Shankar Roy Chowdhury was the seventeenth Chief of Army Staff. He was born on 06 September 1937 in Kolkata, West Bengal. He became a cadet in the Indian Armed forces in 1953 and was commissioned on 09 June 1957, after graduating from IMA.
He assumed charge as the COAS on 22 November 1994 on the death of General B. C. Joshi. He retired on 30 September 1997, after completing 40 years of his military career, after which he became the Rajya Sabha member.
18. General Ved Prakash Malik
General Ved Prakash Malik, born on 01 November 1939, served as the eighteenth Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He held office from 01 October 1997 till 30 September 2000. Kargil war was fought during his tenure.
19. General Sundara Rajan Padmanabhan
General Sundara Rajan Padmanabhan, born on 05 December 1940 at Thiruvananthapuram. He was schooled at Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun and later joined NDA in 1956. He Graduated from IMA in 1959.
He served as General Officer C-I-C of northern and southern Command before being appointed as the Chief of Army Staff on 01 October 2000. He left office on 31 December 2002 after serving for 2 years 91 days.
20. General Nirmal Chander Vij
General Nirmal Chander Vij, born on 03 January 1943 at Jammu served as the twentieth Chief of Army Staff. He joined NDA in 1959 and was commissioned into the Dogra Regiment on 1 December 1962. He was the Major General, General staff at the Western Command in Chandimandir, Chandigarh. He served for 2 years 30 days and retired on 31 January 2005.
Post-retirement, he was the founder-vice chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority.
21. General Joginder Jaswant Singh
General Joginder Jaswant Singh, born on 17 September 1945 was appointed as the twenty-first Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army. He was the first Sikh to have led the Indian Army. He was the 11th COAS who also headed the Western Command, Chnadiamndir. He left the office on 30 September 2007.
He joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (political party) after retirement. In 2012, he published his autobiography – A Soldier’s General.
22. General Deepak Kapoor
General Deepak Kapoor born in 1948 served 40 years of his life in the Indian Army. He was appointed as the twenty-second Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army on 01 October 2007 and served for 2 years 181 days till 31 March 2010.
23. General Vijay Kumar Singh
General Vijay Kumar Singh is born on 10 May 1951 in Bhiwani, Haryana. After his education in Rajasthan, he joined NDA. He was appointed as the twenty-third Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army from 01 April 2010 to 31 May 2012.
He was the first commando to achieve this position. He was also the first COAS to take the Government of India to court in dispute of his date of birth and subsequent retirement.
He joined BJP (Bhartiya Janata Party) after his retirement and was elected as a member of Parliament in 2014. He is currently serving as the Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways.
He also wrote his biography – Courage and Conviction.
24. General Bikram Singh
General Bikram succeeded General V K Singh to be the twenty-fourth COAS on 01 June 2012 and the second Sikh to reach this position. The wars of 1962 and 1965 motivated him to join NDA in 1968 though he aspired to become a doctor in childhood. He retired from the position on 31 July 2014.
25. General Dalbir Singh Suhag
General Dalbir Singh Suhag born on 28 December 1954 currently serving as the Indian High Commissioner to Seychelles. He was born in Haryana and completed his primary education in Sainik School, Rajasthan before joining NDA.
He was commissioned into the 4th Batallion of 5 Gorkha Rifles on 16 June 1974. He served as the Vice Chief before being appointed as the twenty-fifth Chief of Army Staff on 31 July 2014. He served for 2 years 152 days and left office on 31 December 2016.
26. General Bipin Rawat
General Bipin Rawat born in Pauri, Uttrakhand in a family where many generations served in the Army. He joined NDA and was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’ at IMA.
He was commissioned int the 5th battalion of 11 Gorkha Rifles on 16 December 1978. He was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army on 31 December 2016 to 31 Dec 2019.
On 30 December 2019, he was appointed as the first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of India and started working in the office from 1st January 2020.
To know about other Ranks, read the article on Indian Army Ranks.
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