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New vice-chiefs for army, IAF

New Delhi, Jan. 1: Lieutenant General Man Mohan Singh Rai has taken over as the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Eastern Army Command in Fort William, Calcutta, after Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag took over as the vice-chief of the army staff.

The government has also moved Air Marshal Ravi Kant Sharma, who was chief of the Eastern Air Command headquartered in Shillong, as the vice-chief of air staff in air headquarters, New Delhi. Sharma takes over from Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who took over as the chief of air staff yesterday.

Suhag, who is in line to be the next army chief after General Bikram Singh, was the eastern army commander before taking over from Lieutenant General S.K. Singh in army headquarters. S.K. Singh retired yesterday.

In moving Suhag to New Delhi, the government has gone back to a policy to give the next possible chief a chance to familiarise himself with the army headquarters before taking over as the general. But this is not a stated policy. Suhag is yet to be named army chief-designate.

Rai, who took over as the eastern army commander today, is the first corps of engineers officer to head one of Indian Army’s leading operational commands whose area of operation includes the seven northeastern states, Bengal and Sikkim.

Rai was chief of staff at the Jaipur-headquartered South Western Command before his current appointment. He has also commanded a corps in the desert sector of Rajasthan, an armoured engineer regiment in the plains, a mountain brigade in the Northeast and a Rashtriya Rifles Force in Jammu and Kashmir.

In other new appointments, Lieutenant General Arun Kumar Sahni has taken over as the general officer commanding-in-chief of the South Western Command from Lieutenant General Gyan Bhushan who has retired.