The government on Saturday appointed vice chief of army staff Lt Gen 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.
Lt Gen Rawat, an infantry soldier, superseded senior most army commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who headed the Eastern Command and was next in line to be the army chief, besides Southern Command Chief P M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 Lt gen Rawat was found best suited among the Lt Generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganized and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.
They said Lt Gen 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 LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.
He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and connect with civil society.
His experience as GOC-in-C Southern Army Command in Mechanised Warfare has been focused towards the western borders, in coordination with the other two services, the sources said.
Supersesion in the army is not new though there has not been any such instances in the recent past. In 1983, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had appointed Lt Gen AS Vaidya as army chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.
Earlier in 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt 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.
About Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat
Lt Gen Bipin Rawat has held important command and staff appointments. He was commisioned into 5th battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles.
He commanded 5/11 GR, commanded an Infantry division in J&K, commanded 4 Corps at Tezpur in Eastern Command and was the Army Commander of the Southern Command (Pune) before taking over as Vice Chief in army headquarters
Interestingly, Lt Gen Bipin Rawat's father Lt Gen Laxman Rawat also retired as the vice chief of Indian Army. Lt Gen Rawat was 'Sword of Honour' in Indian Military Academy as he topped the IC list of December, 1978 at the academy.
About Air Marshal BS Dhanoa
Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, is currently Vice Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
He assumed the office on 1 June 2015. He was formerly the AOC-in-C of South Western Air Command of IAF.
He actively took part in the 1999 Kargil War and was awarded Yudh Seva Medal, Vayu Sena Medal for his service in the war.