Friday 17 September 2021
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Next Army chief: Three names lead the race

At a time of heightened tension in India-Pakistan relations, an early decision on the next Army chief would ensure a smooth transition

Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat is retiring on 31 December. The process of appointing his successor, the new Chief of Army Staff, has started. Officials gave information about this on Wednesday.

The process of appointing a new Army chief starts four or five months before a current army chief retires. The Ministry of Defence intervenes very rarely in appointing a new Chief of Army Staff. The final decision on the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff will be taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is the only minister who is included in the Appointments Committee.

Earlier, the new Army chief used to be announced a month or 45 days before the current army chief retired. This convention has changed now. The process for the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff has started early, as the current Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat is about to retire at a time when India-Pakistan tension has heightened. Since the virtual abrogation of from and Kashmir, Pakistan has been furious and has been violating the cease-fire time and again from across the LoC and the international border. The Indian Army responded with heavy shelling every time.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that India’s security forces were ready to face challenges from across the border. On the question of reactivation of terrorist bases in Balakot, Pakistan, Rajnath Singh said that the country’s security forces were fully prepared to respond to any misadventure by the enemy. He was speaking during the function to thr Coast Guard patrol vessel Varaha in Chennai.

Earlier on Monday, Gen Bipin Rawat had said that Pakistan had reactivated its terrorist camps in Balakot that trains the recruits of Maulana -led Jaish-e-Mohammed. On 14 February, there was a terrorist attack on CRPF convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir, in response to which India hit Balakot of Pakistan with airstrikes and destroyed the base of the terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed. Pakistan tried to retaliate soon but was repelled by a superior Indian Air Force. In the dogfight that ensued, pilot Abhinandan Varthaman flying an antiquated -21 S Bison downed a -of-the-art F-16 of Pakistan but was hit in the process, with his jet falling in PoK. Pakistan had to return the pilot to India under tremendous pressure on it to abide by international conventions on prisoners of war.

In the prevailing situation of bilateral strife between India and Pakistan, an early decision about the successor of Gen Rawat will ensure a smooth transition needed for the Army to stay on operational high alert. In the race for the position of the new army chief are Lt Gen MM Naravane, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh and Lt Gen SK Saini.

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