The government has approved the appointment of Eastern Command chief Lt General Manoj Pande as the next Army vice-chief, even as the decision on the next chief of defence staff (CDS) is still awaited.
Lt Gen Pande will succeed Lt-General CP Mohanty, who is slated to retire on January 31, sources said on Tuesday. There was, however, no official word on the appointment. Another senior Lt Gen, Northern Command chief YK Joshi, is also slated to retire this month-end. A third senior Lt Gen, Army Training Command chief Raj Shukla, in turn, will superannuate on March 31.
Consequently, Lt Gen Pande, who was commissioned into the Corps of Engineers (the Bombay Sappers) in December 1982, will be the senior-most serving Lt Gen if present Army chief General M M Naravane retires on turning 62 in April as scheduled.
The untimely death of Gen Bipin Rawat, who had assumed charge as the country’s first-ever CDS on January 1, 2020, in a Mi-17 V5 helicopter crash last month, however, has put a question mark on the line of succession in the Army.
Though Gen Naravane is considered the frontrunner for the CDS post, the government has shown no urgency as yet in naming Gen Rawat’s successor. While a CDS can serve till the age of 65, the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs serve till 62 or for three years, whichever is earlier.