The Army Headquarters has issued posting orders for the new General Officers Commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps and Nagrota-based 16 Corps in Jammu and Kashmir but there is still no word on the two Commands — Western Command and Army Training Command (ARTRAC) — still lying vacant.
As per the posting orders, Lt Gen J S Sandhu will be the new GOC 15 Corps and will replace Lt Gen Satish Kumar Dua. As is the trend for the past couple of months, no posting orders have been issued for Lt Gen Dua and the posting directive mentions that his orders “will follow.” In another move, Lt Gen AK Sharma has been appointed as the next GOC of 16 Corps. He will replace Lt Gen R R Nimbhorkar who proceeds as Master General Ordnance (MGO) in Army Headquarters.
Lt Gen Sandhu is an officer of the 5th Gorkha Rifles, the regiment of the Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh. He has served as the Military Attache in Nepal and had also coordinated the relief and rescue operations in Nepal in 2015. He takes over the command of the Corps in Srinagar at a time when the Valley is facing widespread unrest and the Army is once again expected to play a dominant role in quelling the disturbances. He has been given an extended joining time of 30 days and will report to Srinagar to take over the command of the Corps on October 25.
Lt Gen AK Sharma, who has been appointed as the next GOC 16 Corps, was serving as the Director General in the Recruiting Directorate on Army Headquarters. In another posting, Lt Gen Vijay Singh, serving in the Military Training Directorate, has been posted as Director General Staff Dugties (DGSD) in place of Lt Gen Sandhu.
However, the two important Commands of the Army still remain vacant with the Army Headquarters failing to issue the posting orders for the GOC-in-C of Western Command and ARTRAC. Military circles are abuzz with speculation over the Western Command being kept vacant for nearly one and a half months now and it is functioning under an ad-hoc arrangement with one of the Corps Commanders officiating as the GOC-in-C after the retirement of Lt Gen KJ Singh, the previous Army Commander on July 31.
Despite the fact that Lt Gen D R Soni was the seniormost officer available to be posted as the GOC-in-C in Western Command on July 31, his posting orders were not issued for this appointment. Instead, there were reports that Lt Gen Surinder Singh, then commanding 33 Corps, will be appointed as the Western Army Commander. However, he too has been attached to Army Headquarters after relinquishing the command of his Corps and is awaiting further orders.
An armoured corps officer, Lt Gen Soni , has been awaiting his new posting now for more than two months.
A failure of the Ministry of Defence and the Army Headquarters to agree upon the new postings in Western Command and ARTRAC is said to be the reason why the officer has been kept waiting. The delay has led to widespread speculation within the armoured corps retired officers fraternity that the General officer is being deliberately sidelined for an important assignment in an indication of a turf war at the highest levels.