The Government of India has appointed new officials as heads of the Army and Air Force. These appointments are among a series of intelligence and military appointments, and are made just two weeks before the retirement of Indian Army’s two most senior defense chiefs.
It is reported that Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat is named as the new Chief of the Indian Army. Lt. Gen. Rawat is experienced in working along the Line of Control, which is the border between areas that are controlled by Pakistan and India in the disputed regions of Kashmir. He will be successor of General Dalbir Singh Suhaag.
On a similar note, Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, who is a fighter pilot, was selected as the new Chief of the Indian Air Force, and he will be replacing Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha.
These appointments were announced by a Defence Ministry spokesperson on Twitter on Sunday. The appointment of Lt. Gen. Rawat, who is a counterinsurgency specialist, raised a few concerns among the opposition parties though, as he was offered the job ahead of two senior candidates for the post.
“Why has seniority not been respected in appointment of Army Chief,” Manish Tewari said, who is a former government minister and leader of the opposition Congress party. The appointment of Rawat was also questioned by the Communist Party of India leader, D. Raja, but spokesperson for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) replied that the appointments are not a matter for political debate.
“The government appoints people to the office based on what it considers to be the most appropriate choice,” BJP spokesman GVL Narasimha Rao said. Media reported that it is the first time since 1983 that the most senior candidate had not been offered the chance to replace an outgoing Army Chief.
The Indian government has also announced appointments to two of their main intelligence agencies. Anil Dhasmana is named as the head of India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and Rajiv Jain is named as the new Chief of the domestic Intelligence Bureau. Both these persons will serve as heads of the agencies for the next two years.