WITH BARELY four days to go before the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Command, Lt Gen KJ Singh, retires, the Army Headquarters and Ministry of Defence are yet to announce the name of his successor.
Under normal cirumstances and as per precendence of last several years, the name of the incoming Army Commander is announced weeks in advance. However this time around, the Western Command hierarchy is unsure about the next incumbent Army Commander and the only information available is through word of mouth rather than an official order.
In fact, the appointment of GOC-in-C Western Command is not the only one in limbo because of delay in issuing posting orders. Sources said as many as seven officers of the rank of Lt General are awaiting their next posting orders even as several important appointments are falling vacant due to retirement of present office holders or completion of their tenure.
Apart from Lt Gen K J Singh, those who would be retiring in days to come are Lt Gen Amit Sharma Commander in Chief of the Strategic Forces Command and Air Marshal PP Reddy, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee. Some important appointments falling vacant but whose replacements have not been announced are Master General of Ordnance, Director General Perspective Planning, Director General Staff Duties and Director General Military Intelligence. The posting orders of some Corps Commanders have also not been issued in due course.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a serving Lt General, not willing to be named, said he could not recall the last time that such a situation of uncertainity prevailed regarding future postings and appointments. He said while there have been instances of delays at junior ranks.
The most recent posting orders issued by the Military Secretary’s branch and accessed by The Indian Express pertained to officers of the rank of Major General only. These include the posting of Maj Gen B Bakshi as IG Training NSG Training Centre, Maj Gen IS Ghuman as Chief of Staff Western Command, Maj Gen RK Gupta as IG HQ Assam Rifles, Maj Gen AR Prasad as Signal Officer-in-Chief, Maj Gen A Chauan as Director General (DC&W) Army HQs, Maj Gen AS Bedi as GOC Bengal Area, Maj Gen MK Yadav as GOC 111 Sub Area and Maj Gen S Sabharwal as Additional DG NCC Bihar and Jharkhand.
Reacting to the development, Major General Gaganjeet Singh (retd) said, “It is strange that seven officers of Indian Army of the rank of Lt General are not aware of their places of posting from August 1 onwards. The gross error has taken place due to some few people at top who had a vested interest to change the line of command. It is more a result of rivalry between different arms as merit has become a secondary thing and promotion and postings are done on the whims and fancies of a few. This had never happened in the armed forces so far.”
It had earlier been reported by The Indian Express last month that the Army Headquarters had failed to issue regular posting orders to two of its Corps Commanders even after the completion of their tenures, and had instead attached them with different headquarters pending their next assignment.
Lt Gen D R Soni, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Bathinda-based 10 Corps and Lt Gen P S Mehta, GOC of Bhopal-based 21 Corps (Strike Corps) of the Army were relieved of their appointments without their next postings in hand.
While Lt Gen Soni has been attached to headquarters of South Western Command in Jaipur, Lt Gen Mehta has been sent on 45-day leave while being attached with the office if Deputy Chief of Army Staff (IT&S) in Army Headquarters.
Both, Lt Gen Soni and Lt Gen Mehta, belong to the armoured corps and their attachments without permanent postings was taken amiss by the retired officera fraternity of the armoured corps who expressed various motives for the same.
Sources in Army Headquarters said that Lt Gen KJ Singh’s replacement had been finalised but it was later learnt that he was junior in service to one of the Corps Commanders under Western Command. Similarly, Lt Gen Soni was slated to move to Andaman and Nicobar Command as Commander-in-Chief but that post will now stay with the Navy. It was also informed that there was a delay in posting of Lt Gen Mehta as he was slated to join the Integrated Defence Staff till it was realised that the incoming Chief of Integrated Defence Staff was from Navy and was two years junior on service to Lt Gen Mehta.
Veterans say the delays in announcing postings of senior officers well in time smacks of mismanagement on part of the Military Secretary’s branch and that the Minister for Defence, Manohar Parrikar must take note of it.