Rawat made Indian forces more integrated warfighting organization, says US Defence Secretary


US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin mourned the loss of India’s Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat on December 8, hailing his contribution to the defense ties between the two countries.

“General Rawat left an indelible mark on the course of the US-India defense partnership and was at the center of the Indian Armed Forces’ transformation into a more jointly integrated warfighting organization,” Austin said in the condolence message released by US department of defense.

“I and the [Defense] Department extend our deepest condolences to the Rawat family, the Indian military, and the people of India after the tragic passing of Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash,” he said.

Rawat, his wife and 11 others were killed when their helicopter crashed in the hills of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

“I had the privilege of meeting with him earlier this year and viewed him as a valued partner and friend of the United States,” Austin added.

Rawat had visited the US in September and met Austin, Chairman of Chiefs of Defence Staff General Mark Milley and other officials and visited joint base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.

After their meeting, Austin had tweeted, “We reaffirmed our enduring commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and discussed ways to drive greater interoperability between the US and Indian armed forces.”

The US Embassy in New Delhi also mourned the loss of India’s first ever CDS, saying “Rawat spearheaded a historic period of transformation in the Indian military. He was a strong friend and partner of the United States, overseeing a major expansion of India’s defense cooperation with the US military.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told the media, the UNSG is deeply saddened by the death of General Rawat, his wife and 11 other people in a helicopter crash. He expressed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and to the people and Government of India.

He recalled that General Rawat served the United Nations with distinction as Brigade Commander of the North Kivu Brigade of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo (MONUC) in 2008 and 2009.