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Lt Gen MM Naravane Next Army Vice-Chief, may Succeed Rawat

In top-level appointments in the Army, Eastern Command chief Lt-General Manoj Mukund Naravane has been named as the next vice chief of the 13-lakh strong force, in an indication that he is likely to succeed General Bipin Rawat when he retires on December 31.

The other top appointments include Lt-Gen Anil Chauhan as the new chief of the Eastern Command, while Lt Gens AS Kler, IS Ghuman and RP Singh will head the South-Western, Central and Western Commands respectively. But it’s the posting of Lt Gen Naravane, who will replace Lt Gen Devraj Anbu on August 31, which has evoked the maximum interest. After Lt Gen Naravane, the second in line for the Army chief’s post is the present chief of Northern Command, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, who was the director-general of military operations during the “surgical strikes” against insurgent camps in Myanmar in June 2015 and terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in September 2016.

“With Lt-Gen Naravane coming as the vice chief, it will now be highly unusual if Lt-Gen Ranbir Singh is appointed over him in the Army headquarters later this year. A superseded Lt-Gen can continue as the head of a command outside Delhi, but will find it difficult to serve under someone junior in the Army headquarters,” said a senior officer.

Last year, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh was appointed the head of an operational command, the Northern Command, before Lt-Gen Naravane, who was then heading the Army Training Command. But Lt-Gen Naravane was later appointed as the Eastern Command chief in October 2018. All calculations, of course, will go haywire if the government decides to create the long-pending post of a fourth four-star general, after the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs, in the shape of a permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee to handle tri-Service issues in planning, budgeting, procurements, training and logistics.

Though earlier governments almost always followed the seniority principle to anoint a new military chief, the NDA government first appointed Gen Rawat as the new Army chief in December 2016 by superseding two Lt-Generals (Praveen Bakshi and PM Hariz) senior to him. Then, earlier this year, the government had appointed Admiral Karambir Singh as the new Navy chief by superseding Andaman Nicobar Command chief Vice Admiral Bimal Verma. Source: The Times of India