New Delhi: General Bipin Rawat and Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa on Saturday took over as the Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Air staff from General Dalbir Singh and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha respectively.
General Rawat’s appointment as the 27th Army chief courted controversy as the Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi and Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen. P.M. Hariz were superseded in the process.
On Saturday, however, Lt. Gen. Bakshi squashed speculation about his resignation and telephoned General Bipin Rawat to congratulate him.
The two outgoing chiefs laid wreaths at the Amar Jawan Jyoti here ahead of handing over charge to their successors.
General Singh, after inspecting a Guard of Honour in the lawns of South Block, said he had promised “more than adequate, immediate and intense” response to any action, and that the Indian Army had delivered on it during the two and a half years he was at the helm.
“…I strongly believe that actions must speak louder than words. The day I took over as Chief of the Army Staff I had said that our response to any action will be more than adequate, immediate and intense,” General Singh said.
During General Singh’s tenure, Indian Army conducted two surgical strikes — one in the eastern front along the Myanmar border in June 2015 in response to an ambush in Manipur in which 18 soldiers died; and second in September this year across the Line of Control in response to the Uri attack in which 19 soldiers were killed.
General Rawat had played key roles in both the strikes — as Corps Commander of Dimapur-based 3 Corps in the Myanmar strike and as Vice Chief of Army Staff in the attack across the LoC.
The outgoing Army chief said the focus of the Army has been on operational preparedness and training.
“The Indian Army has delivered that in the last two and a half years. The Indian Army is the finest and the strongest Army in the world. Our leaders are most competent and unit leaders lead from the front and soldiers are bravest. I want to assure the nation that Indian Army is fully prepared, well trained to undertake any challenges, be it external or internal,” he said.
He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government for “giving free hand in conducting operations”, impetus on the Army’s modernisation and ‘One Rank One Pension’.
General Singh retired after putting 43 years in service. An alumnus of Sainik School Chittorgarh in Rajasthan, General Singh joined the National Defence Academy in 1970. He served as a Company Commander during “Op Pawan” in Sri Lanka , commanded the 53 Infantry Brigade involved in counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley and commanded the 8 Mountain Division in Jammu and Kashmir.
General Rawat was commissioned in the 5th Battalion of the 11 Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.
The Defence Ministry justified General Rawat’s appointment, saying he was found to be “best suited among the eligible Lt. 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 north-east”.
Lt. Gen. Bakshi on Saturday called up to congratulate General Rawat and requested that “speculations and trolling in the media and social media should stop and everyone should focus on contributing their best to the betterment of the Army and the nation.”
Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, meanwhile, took over as the 25th Chief of the Air Staff.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, in his address to the air warriors stressed on training and equipping the IAF to deter unconvetional threats.
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.
Air Chief Marshal Raha was commissioned into the IAF on December 14, 1974, in the Fighter Stream of the Flying Branch. During a career spanning over nearly 39 years, he held various command, staff and instructional appointments.
He also served as Air Attache at the Embassy of India, Ukraine, and commanded the Central and Western Air Commands.