New Delhi: General Manoj Mukund Naravane on December 31 took over as the 28th Chief of Army Staff helming the 1.3 million-strong force at a time India faces evolving security challenges such as cross-border terrorism and an assertive Chinese military along the border.
Gen Naravane, who was serving as vice chief of the Army Staff, succeeds General Bipin Rawat, who has been appointed the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a post created to bring in operational convergence among the three Services.
As Army chief, Gen Naravane’s priorities are expected to be the implementation of long-pending reforms of the Army, contain cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and bolster the operational capabilities of the force along the northern border where China has been ramping up its military infrastructure in Tibet.
With Gen Naravane taking charge, all the three Services heads including Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria are now from the 56th course of the National Defence Academy.
In his 37 years of service, Gen Naravane served in numerous command and staff appointments in peace, field and highly active counter-insurgency environments in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.
He also commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion in Jammu and Kashmir and an infantry brigade on the eastern front. Besides, he was part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka and served as India’s defence attache at the Indian Embassy in Myanmar for three years.
He was commissioned into the 7th battalion, the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in June 1980.
The general is a decorated officer who has been awarded the ‘Sena Medal’ (Distinguished) for effectively commanding his battalion in Jammu and Kashmir.
After a farewell Guard of Honour, Gen Rawat, who paid respects to fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial, also expressed the hope that the Army will rise to greater heights under its new chief.
Asked whether the Army is better prepared now to face the security challenges facing the country he said, “Yes, we are better prepared.”
“I express my gratitude to all soldiers who have stood steadfast under challenging circumstances, performing their duties, keeping the traditions of our armed forces. My special compliments to our soldiers on northern, western and eastern borders who are braving tough winter and icy winds, steadfastly in guarding our country,” he told reporters.