New Delhi: Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat, the vice chief of the Indian Army, will be the next army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa will be the next Indian Air Force (IAF) chief after Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha relinquishes office on 31 December, the defence ministry announced on Saturday.
Although the ministry makes the announcement 60 days before the officer relieves office, the government put an end to speculations that had earlier been doing the rounds about probable successors to the post. However, Lt Gen Rawat has 13 days to acquaint himself with the office of the Army chief, before General Suhag steps aside. Likewise, Air Marshal Dhanoa has just the same amount of time before his predecessor Air Marshal Arup Raha retires.
Lt Gen Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’. Following that, he gained significant experience in high altitude warfare and counter insurgency operations. He commanded an Infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern sector, a Rashtriya Rifles sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley. He has also been Major General General Staff at HQ Eastern Command.
“Lt General Rawat’s military career has spanned 35 years, during which he has accomplished many feats. He is well capable of taking on the office of the Army chief and he will surely prove to be a good guide for the forces,” said a senior army officer on condition of anonymity.
A qualified fighter pilot and a Kargil-war veteran, 59-year-old Air Marshal Dhanoa is expected to have a tenure of about three years as the chief of Air Staff.
Prior to serving as the vice chief of the Indian Air Force, he was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Command. Air Marshal Dhanoa is a qualified flying instructor and during the Operation Vijay in 1999 (Kargil Operations), he famously commanded a fighter squadron and led several night strike missions during the war.