New Delhi: The Indian government on Saturday appointed vice chief of army staff Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Army chief, superseding his two senior officers, while vice chief of air staff Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa has been made the new chief of the Indian Air Force.
“Government has decided to appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, vice chief of army staff, as the next chief of army staff with effect from afternoon of December 31,” the defence ministry said in a tweet.
It also tweeted that Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa will take over as IAF chief with effect from afternoon of December 31
Rawat will replace General Dalbir Singh, while Dhanoa will take over from IAF chief Arup Raha
Lieutenant General Rawat, an infantry soldier, superseded senior most army commander Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi, who headed the Eastern Command and was next in line to be the army chief, besides Southern Command chief P.M. Hariz
Government sources said Rawat was found best suited among the lieutenant generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the northeast.
They said Rawat has tremendous hands-on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the Line of Control with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control with China and in the northeast.
His experience as general officer commanding-in-chief Southern Army Command in mechanised warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services, the sources said.
Supersession in the army is not new, though there has not been any such instance in the recent past. In 1983, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed Lieutenant General A.S. Vaidya as army chief superseding Lieutenant General S.K. Sinha, who resigned in protest.
Earlier in 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped Lieutenant General P.S. Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.
This was done by giving his junior, General G.G. Bewoor, a year’s extension, during which time Bhagat retired. Bewoor, thus, succeeded Manekshaw.