September 1, 2016 5:09:37 am
After Western Command, yet another command of the Army has fallen vacant due to the inability of the Ministry of Defence to clear the postings of certain senior officers. The Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Shimla, is now without a General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) with the present office holder having been posted out.
Lt Gen P M Hariz, the GOC-in-C ARTRAC, has been posted as the GOC-in-C Southern Command in Pune and he takes over on September 1. He replaces Lt Gen Bipin Rawat who has moved as Vice Chief of Army Staff on the retirement of Lt Gen M M S Rai on August 31.
The ARTRAC is one of the seven commands of the Army and is responsible for formulating operational concepts and doctrines of warfare for the Army, besides being a nodal point for all premier training institutions of the Army.
In fact, the Army Training Command is now without a GOC-in-C as well as the Chief of Staff, both officers in the rank of Lt General. The Chief of Staff, Lt Gen PM Bali, has been posted out as Director General Perspective Planning and he takes over his new assignment on September 1.
The Western Command, one of the most important operational commands of the Army whose troops are operationally tasked to face Pakistan, has now been without a permanent GOC-in-C for a month. The previous Western Army Commander, Lt Gen K J Singh, retired on July 31 without any reliever for him being posted.
Interestingly, General Officer Commanding 11 Corps, Lt Gen J S Cheema, who had been appointed as officiating Army Commander on July 31, is now himself moving out on posting as Director General (Infantry) and his reliever, Lt Gen B S Sahrawat has come to replace him. Now, the Army Headquarters will have to appoint a second officiating Western Army Commander and this time the duty may have to be performed by the next senior-most Corps Commander.
Even though there are two Lt Generals awaiting to be appointed as GOC-in-C after completion of command of their Corps, yet they have not been given any posting. While Lt Gen D R Soni has been awaiting orders since June, Lt Gen Surinder Singh, widely tipped to be Western Army Commander, has been also been attached to Army Headquarters.
Terming the development as unprecedented and blaming it on the lack of coordination between the Ministry of Defence and the Army Headquarters, a senior officer, requesting anonymity, revealed that a stand-off of sorts seems to have occurred due to which the entire chain of postings has fallen in a limbo.
“Not only are two Army Lt Generals awaiting posting as Army Commanders but a third appointment of Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chiefs of Staff Committee, a post equivalent to Army Commander, is also lying vacant for the past couple of months. Instead of posting a permanent officer, an IAF officer, Air Marshal Ajit S Bhonsle has been appointed as the Officiating Chief and he is expected to continue till February 2017,” the officer said.
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