INDIA. Mumbai: On April 30, Vice Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen Manoj C Pande will succeed General Manoj Mukund Naravane as Chief of the Indian Army Staff (COAS), according to an official communication.
On December 31, 2019, Gen Naravane took over as COAS.
The COAS retires after three years in office or when he or she reaches the age of 62, whichever comes first. Naravane held the position of COAS for 28 months. Since the death of Gen Bipin Rawat in a helicopter crash on December 15, 2021, he has also served as an interim Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Naravane has now reached the age of 62.
Lt Gen Pande is the first engineer to hold the position of Chief of the Air Staff. On February 1, he took over as Vice Chief of the Army Staff from Lt Gen C P Mohanty. He was a member of Operation Parakram, the 2001–2002 stalemate between India and Pakistan that resulted in large-scale force mobilisation on both sides of the border and along the Line of Control in Kashmir.
Born on May 06, 1962, Lt Gen Pande was commissioned on December 24, 1982, in the Corps of Engineers (The Bombay Sappers) of the Indian Army. During his long career service spanning over 39 years, he served in a variety of Command, Staff, and Instructional appointments.
In the Western Theatre, he commands an Engineer Brigade as part of the Strike Corps, while in Jammu and Kashmir, he commands an Infantry Brigade along the Line-of-Control. Other Command appointments include a Mountain Division in Western Ladakh’s high-altitude sector and Command of a Corps deployed along the LAC and in Eastern Command’s Counter-Insurgency Operations area.
In the rank of Lt Gen, he has held important appointments including that of Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman & Nicobar Command and as the GOC-in-C of the Eastern Command at Kolkata before getting appointed as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff.
He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and has undergone courses at Staff College, Camberley (UK), Army War College, Mhow (Madhya Pradesh), and National Defence College, New Delhi. He was conferred with Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, and Vishisht Seva Medal for his illustrious service.
In the meanwhile, the Central government is yet to announce the next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) after the sudden demise of the country’s first CDS Gen Bipin Rawat. Outgoing COAS Gen Naravane is the senior-most among the three service chiefs. Besides, former Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria is also seen as a possible contender for the post of the country’s topmost military man. The Government is likely to consider both serving and retired officers for the post of CDS, which reports to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister.