File image of Army Chief General M M Naravane. Image courtesy: wikipedia

Lieutenant General M M Naravane will take over as the next vice-chief of the 1.3 million strong Indian army from Lt Gen D Anbu who retires on August 31.

Lt Gen Narawane , currently heading the Eastern Command, now becomes  the senior-most officer in the force after Army chief General Bipin Rawat retires on December 30.

Also read: Naravane slated to take over Eastern Command seen as next Army chief

He becomes an obvious choice to take over as chief from General Rawat with only one possible contender in sight – the present Northern Army commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh who was Director-General, Military Operations during the 2016 ‘surgical strikes’ across the Line of Control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

The government had, however, not honoured the seniority principle when it made General Rawat the chief.

Several Lieutenant Generals senior to him including Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi were superseeded.

The argument in leaving out a top armoured corps officer of proven worth like Bakshi was that Rawat had better experience and understanding of counter-insurgency, a role in which the Army is heavily involved at the moment.

But many veterans insisted that counter-insurgency is not the main role of the Army and it should strongly focus on its main job of defending the country’s borders with hostile neighbours like China and Pakistan.

Under Lt Gen Naravane’s leadership, the Indian Army carried out joint operations with the Myanmar Army targeting insurgent groups active in the Northeast.

He will be replaced by Lt Gen Anil Chauhan, who is currently posted as Director General of Military Operations.

The other changes at the Army commander level include Lt Gen A S Kler taking over the South-Western Command, Lt Gen I S Ghuman the Central Command and Lt Gen R P Singh the crucial Western Command, whose formations face Pakistani army alongwith India’s Northern Army.

Subir Bhaumik

Subir Bhaumik is a Kolkata-based senior journalist. He can be reached at: sbhaum@gmail.com

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