Indian Government has chosen a new Army Chief to replace General Dalbir Singh to take on the helm of the Indian Army along with other new appointments for key posts such as the Air Force Chief. Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, who was serving as the Vice Chief of Army Staff, is going to be India’s Army Chief and Air Marshal DS Dhanoa will be taking over the job as the Air Force Chief. Other than that Rajiv Jain is set to become Intelligence Bureau chief and Anil Kumar Dhasmana will take charge of Research & Analysis Wing (RAW).
The two postings for Army and Air Chiefs are considered to be mainly coming as a result of “India’s current security dilemma” as both, Rawat and Dhanoa, have strong profiles when it comes to Kashmir.
General Rawat is considered to be an expert on counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir Valley and has served there extensively. Apart from commanding 19 Division in Kashmir, he had one tenure in Northeast as well. Basically from 11 Gorkha Rifles regiment, he had served in 2008’s United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Congo as well. It should be kept in mind that he has served in the Congo peace keeping mission along with General Bikram Singh and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa.
One of the main reasons why Rawat has superseded other two lieutenant generals is his 10 years of experience in counter-insurgency operations and also his posting on the Line of Control. In June 2015, 18 Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed by Naga rebels (NSCN-K) in Manipur. In response, the Indian Army responded with cross-border strikes by 21 Para (Special Forces) under the operational control of the Dimapur-based III Corps which was then headed by Rawat. Owing to this factor in the Rawat’s CV he is being dubbed as a master of surgical strikes which clearly suggests that India is not yet over with its dramatizations of fake “surgical strikes”.
One of the key points in General Rawat’s appointment is how quickly he has been driven towards the helm as this is the third position he will be taking over during this year. He assumed the post of General Office Commanding in Chief, Southern Command on 1 January 2016 and assumed the post of Vice Chief of Army Staff on 1 September 2016. On 17 December 2016, the Government of India designated him as the Chief superseding two senior most Lt Generals, Praveen Bakshi and P M Hariz. It is a precedent repeated after 33 years and was previously brought in effect by the Indira Gandhi.
Not all in India seem to be satisfied with the choice. Former army chief General Shankar Roy Chowdhury, however, said he did not agree that the present appointee “has the kind of experience we need” and added that he was “beyond disappointed and anxious” about the move’s impact within the forces. While it was the government’s prerogative to appoint Army chief, the decision has opened up a controversy on an issue that is “extremely divisive within the army”, he added.
Birainder Singh Dhanoa who will now head the Indian Air Force was a key player during Kargil operations in 1999. He will take over the IAF on December 31 as well.
Other two very important postings are for the Internal and external intelligence agencies of India. Anil Kumar Dhasmana and Rajiv Jain both are deputies in their institutions. Jain and Dhasmana are being described as competent choices with both having significant experience on Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Rajiv Jain will sharpen focus on coordinating the government’s financial surveillance programme after the demonetisation move. Anil Kumar Dhasmana seems Indian National Secuirty Adviser Ajit Doval’s personal choice as he has been groomed and promoted by him. He was made the agency’s key man by Ajit Doval for intra- committee meetings over the past several months and now serves as its deputy. He has worked extensively with the agency’s Pakistan desk and has special focus on Balochistan.
Only time will tell what these postings mean for Pakistan but of one thing we can be sure of is that Pakistan is more than ready for any challenges the enemy comes up with.