THERE IS still no clarity about the appointment of the next General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) – even the Western Command authorities are apparently caught up in the confusion. A message was issued Wednesday announcing the ‘golfing in’ of the new Army Commander at the golf course on Friday (September 16) but it was withdrawn a few hours later.
A text message was sent by the management of the Shivalik Environmental Park and Training Area (SEPTA), the name by which the golf course in Chandimandir is known, to the members informing them that the golfing-in of the Army Commander will be held on September 16. The message went on to say “Only nine holes gun start from all Tees at 1500 hours followed by tea.
Only serving officers will participate. Names to be forwarded to Secretary or Starter at SEPTA.”
The message also mentioned that the course would remain closed for non-participants after 1100 hours on September 16.
The message left several members of the SEPTA under the impression that the posting orders of the new Army Commander had been announced and that he would be taking over on September 16, which is why he was being welcomed at the golf course as a part of tradition.
However, these hopes were dashed when later in the day another text message was sent out by the management of SEPTA saying that the event had been postponed.
The new message said “Dear members, golfing in of the Army Commander has been postponed. Fresh date will be intimated later. Course will remain open on September 16.”
SEPTA secretary Col ASA Bajwa said the golfing in had been organised on orders from higher authorities, that is the controlling branch of SEPTA in Command Headquarters.
“We were asked to organise the event and later we were told that it has been postponed. That is all I know,” said Colonel Bajwa when pressed for reasons.
The confusion is symbolic of the uncertainty that prevails regarding the next Army Commander. The previous incumbent left the office 45 day ago, on July 31, and since then the post has been kept vacant. The Army Headquarters chose not to post the seniormost Lt Gen available for appointment as GOC-in-C, Lt Gen DR Soni. Instead, Lt Gen Surinder Singh, the next in line to be the Army Commander, was expected to take up this appointment. However, he too has been attached with the Army Headquarters for the past 20-odd days and is awaiting a posting.
Several key appointments in the Army Headquarters, too, had been lying vacant for the past couple of months and were filled in the past few days, including that of Director, General Military Intelligence (DGMI).
Lt Gen S K Patyal, an officer of Gorkha Rifles, was appointed as DGMI after he relinquished
the command of 14 Corps in Ladakh.