Govt sits on army posts

An extraordinary delay in the announcement of senior generals in the military is keeping the army guessing on who will head crucial formations in the chain of command.

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 30.07.16
  •  

New Delhi, July 29: An extraordinary delay in the announcement of senior generals in the military is keeping the army guessing on who will head crucial formations in the chain of command.

Sources in the government today said the reason for the delay was because "the defence minister Manohar Parrikar is extremely proactive and is personally monitoring the appointments and needs to know who is fit for the right position and why".

The senior positions are usually vetted and approved by the cabinet committee on appointments. Among these positions are that of the western army commander headquartered in Chandigarh. The incumbent, Lt General Kamal Jit Singh, is scheduled to retire on July 31.

The western army command's area of responsibility includes the border with Pakistan from Jammu to a large part of Rajasthan.

Two lieutenant generals who have completed their command of corps have been asked to wait till their appointments are announced. Lt Generals D.R. Soni and P.S. Mehta have been attached to different offices pending the announcement of their assignments.

A third Lt General, Surinder Singh, who headed the Sukna-headquartered 33 Corps, is also at the end of this tenure and is waiting for his next task.

One of the reasons for the delay is that the government is yet to decide on a rejig, sources said. For instance, the government is studying whether to give charge of the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar command to the navy permanently.

In the air force, too, top-level changes are likely next week. Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, currently air officer commanding the southern air command, would be taking over as the head of the Strategic Forces Command, which is also a tri-service formation. The current head of the SFC, Lt General Amit Sharma, is scheduled to retire on July 31.