New Delhi: Superseding two seniormost Lieutenant Generals, the Narendra Modi-led central government on Saturday announced Lt. Gen. Bipin Rawat as the new Army Chief and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa as the new chief of Indian Air Force.
The announcement was made by the Defence Ministry yesterday evening.
Lt Gen. Rawat and Air Marshal Dhanoa, presently the Vice Chiefs of their respective services, will take over on December 31, when incumbents Gen. Dalbir Singh and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha finish their two-year tenure.
Lt. Gen. Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, where he was awarded the 'Sword of Honour'.
He has commanded an infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control, a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an infantry division in the Kashmir Valley, and has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations.
Commissioned into the IAF's fighter stream in June 1978, Dhanoa, who has flown various types of fighter aircraft and is a qualified Flying Instructor, commanded a fighter squadron during the Kargil Operations and flew numerous night strike missions in the mountainous terrain.
He has also held a number of important operational appointments including commanding a fighter base and leading the Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan. He has also served as Chief Instructor (Air) at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Intelligence) and Senior Air Staff Officer (chief of staff) of two operational commands.
The appointment of Rawat has ignored the principle of seniority as Eastern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi and Southern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. P.M. Hariz had spent longer in service. Bakshi was also not appointed Vice Chief when the post fell vacant in September and Rawat brought in from the Southern Command.
In 1972, the Indira Gandhi government had side-stepped Lt. Gen. P.S. Bhagat, who was next in seniority to then army chief General Sam Manekshaw, who later became a Field Marshal, by giving his junior, Lt General G.G. Bewoor a year`s extension. Bhagat retired in this period and Bewoor then succeeded Manekshaw.
Once again in 1983, under the Indira Gandhi regime, Lt General S.K. Sinha, who was then the most senior, was superseded after Gen. K.V. Krishna Rao demitted office and General A.S. Vaidya was appointed as the chief.
(With inputs from IANS)