The Next Chief Of The Air Staff And Chief Of The Army Staff Of India
On 31 December Chairman Chief Of Staff Committee and Chief Of Air Staff , Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha will be retiring from service after more than 42 years of service . Finally the Cabinet headed by PM Modi has announced the name of the new Chief . Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa , the present VCAS will be taking over as the next AirForce Chief .
Air Marshal Dhanoa
Air Marshal B S Dhanoa completed his schooling from RIMC ( Rashtriya Indian Military College ) Dehradoon , where he had gone from St Xaviers School Patna where we had been studying together . His father Mr S S Dhanoa was a Bihar Cadre IAS Officer , who after retirement had been an Election Commissioner of India. Birender has spent so much time in Bihar as a child and till getting commissioned that both Bihar and Punjab will be laying claim on him. B S Dhanoa joined 52 Course at the National Defence Academy in Jul 1974 . We were again together in ECHO Squadron as part of 52 NDA Course . In the Sixth Term , he was the Cadet Sergeant Major …CSM of ECHO Squadron and passed out in June 1977 . He was commissioned in the Fighter Stream in 1978 and started flying MIG21 and later became a qualified Flying Instructor too. He qualified for the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) for the 46 th Course and successfully did his post graduation from there in1990–91. He had the privilege of leading his MIG Squadron during the 1999 Kargil war , wherein he himself led the first and many of the subsequent air attacks on various heights including night attacks . For his daring act he was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal and for his handling of his Command the Yudh Seva Medal . At a later stage , he was the leader of Indian Military Training Team in Tajikstan .Moving up the ladder, he initially became ACAS ( Intelligence) in the Air HQ in the rank of an Air Vice Marshal and later was the Chief Instructor Air at the DSSC . As Air Marshal he was the SASO of Eastern Air Command and then Western Air Command before moving on promotion as AOC – IN – C South Western Air Command . In June 2015 he moved to Air HQ as VCAS . He has been awarded with AVSM also .
Photo of General Praveen Bakshi
Lt General Praveen Bakshi had joined the National Defence Academy , a term before BS Dhanoa , that is the 51 Course in Jan 1974 . In his Sixth Term, he was the Academy Cadet Adjutant and passed out in Dec 1976 . From IMA he passed out in Dec1977 as part of the 61 Regular Course and was commissioned into Skinners Horse Regiment of the Armoured Corps. Praveen Bakshi too qualified for the 46 Defence Services Staff Course and did his post graduation in 1990 – 91 together with B S Dhanoa and me . Later he commanded an Armoured Brigade and a Division in the Punjab Sector and then Commanded the 9 Corps. Before becoming the GOC- In -C Eastern Command , he was COS HQ Northern Command . He has been awarded with a VSM and an AVSM. The incumbent COAS General Suhag is also retiring on 31 Dec2016 after nearly 42 years of service . Since there was delay in announcing the name of the new Chief , a lot of speculation was going on. As per grapevine , in all probability General Praveen Bakshi was going to be made the first Chief Of Defence Staff Of the Indian Armed Forces in the rank of a General or Colonel General or Field Marshal . The rank of the CDS is presently not known , also is not known the detailed charter of responsibilities . However in case the rank remains a General or becomes a Colonel General , in both the cases the epaulets should bear a Ashoka Emblem with 5 Stars in circular pattern around the Emblem .
However finally Praveen Bakshi has been superseded .
This is grossly wrong move . Merit is tested and proved beyond doubt when an officer has successfull commanded a Corps. Once he is appointed an Army Commander then thereafter any other factor being considered for elevation to COAS introduces pure politics into the selection process , no matter what justification is given . Unless the Army Commander has proved his incompetency for all to see , he remains fit to go to the next level. Therefore Date of Birth criteria is the best method . Merit should have been checked in the minutest detail before promoting a General as a Corps Commander itself and then before elevating him to to an Army Commander.
Photo of P M Hariz
It was also being speculated that in case Praveen Bakshi gets the privilege of becoming the first CDS , then who becomes the next Chief Of Army Staff to replace the outgoing General Dalbir Suhag ? Media is giving out the name of Lt General Bipin Rawat , the present VCOAS . They had forgotten or were just unaware of the fact that the present Southern Army Commander , Lt General P M Hariz is a course senior to Bipin Rawat . Hariz like Dhanoa also joined the National Defence Academy in Jul1974 as part of the 52 Course from Sainik School Amrawati . He was commissioned into 16 MAHAR on passing out from IMA in Jun1978 as part of the 62 Regular Course . Hariz had volunteered for parachuting course as a GC at IMA and in Jan 1978 had completed his 5 jumps. Thus he was thrilled to join 16 MAHAR the erstwhile 8 PARA . Soon the unit again got converted to become 12 Mechanized Infantry . Hariz not only qualified for the DSSC but was on top of the list and so did his Staff College from Camberly in UK . Later he commanded 19 Mech Infantry (Recce & Support) . As a Brigadier he commanded a UN Force in Angola . He did an instructor’s tenure both at the Infantry School , Mhow and DSSC , Wellington. He commanded a brigade and a division in the western Sector and then 10 Corps . On promotion to Army Commander , first he went to ARTRAC ( Army Training Command) at Shimla . From there he was moved to Pune as GOC -In C Southern Command …..logically to provide him with experience of handling an Army before becoming the Army Chief . Though at Pune he replaced Lt General Bipin Rawat who had occupied the post not long time back . General Rawat moved to New Delhi as the VCOAS . It is double supersession as even Hariz is not becoming the COAS and his junior gets promoted .
Photo of Lt General Bipin Rawat
As per media , Lt General Praveen Bakshi was becoming the first CDS and therefore Lt General Vipin Rawat was to become the next COAS . This was mentioned by General A Hasnain also in one of articles , overlooking the fact that a very very qualified General Hariz would still be serving as an Army Commander when Suhag demitted office . However a curious fact remains that Bipin Rawat too had joined the National Defence Academy as part of the 52 Course though later he had to shift to 53 Course . So Hariz, Dhanoa and Bipin Rawat all happen to be my coursemates . Interestingly , Bipin Bakshi , Dhanoa and Bipin Rawat all did the same Defence Services Staff Corse ( self too ) …46 DSSC at Staff College , Wellington in 1990….91.
Bipin Rawat was the winner of the Sword of Honour of 63 Regular Course when he passed out of IMA in Dec1978 and was commissioned into 5/ 11 Gurkha Rifles which was in Mizoram . He commanded the same unit in Arunachal and later as a Brigadier commanded a Rashtriya Rifle Sector in Kashmir Valley. He also commanded a multi national brigade for UN Peacekeeping in Congo with super distinction. After commanding a Division in the Valley and later a Corps, he was appointed as Army Commander Southern Army . He then handed over to Hariz and moved to Army HQ as the VCOAS . With his vast experience in high altitude area , Counter insurgency area , Kashmir Valley , UN peace keeping and his academic qualifications ( he is a Ph D too ) he should make an excellent COAS . The fault of introducing politics in the forces through the name of merit lies with the present Cabinet of India and they only will have to deal with its fall out in the present and will be held responsible by History for any adverse impact of such a decision in the distant future . For now General Bipin Rawat will handle his responsibilities in the most efficient manner . We are all sure of this .
The time for CDS has come and should not be delayed any further . With Dhanoa and Rawat being Course mates ( as per tradition of NDA ) and Lanba being just one course senior this is the best time to switch over to the CDS system with least hiccups. As a surprise move Bipin Bakshi can still be made the CDS and PM Hariz the VCDS !!!
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar , Veteran