THE WESTERN Command of the Army has got a second consecutive officiating General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) – this time the mantle has fallen on the GOC of Yol-based 9 Corps, Lt Gen Ashok Ambre.
The development has taken place in the wake of the posting of Lt Gen J S Cheema, GOC 11 Corps, who today relinquished charge and moved on posting to Army Headquarters. Lt Gen Cheema had been appointed officiating Army Commander on July 31 after the retirement of Lt Gen KJ Singh.
Lt Gen Ambre is the next seniormost Corps Commander in Western Command and hence he will hold the fort till the Army Headquarters and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) can agree upon the postings of senior officers. Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior retired officer termed the developments as “undesirable” and said that top appointments of the Army should not be handled in such a cavalier manner.
He added that it was unprecedented that a Command should be kept vacant in this manner and for such a long period of time.
Sources said the decision on the postings of several Lt Generals will be taken only after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar returns from his US visit. Several top-level appointments of Principal Staff Officers in the Army Headquarters are lying vacant as are many appointments in the field. The MoD is yet to approve the appointments of a full-time General officer Commanding of Delhi Area as well as the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa Area.
Meanwhile, Lt Gen B S Sahrawat took over as the GOC of 11 Corps Friday, relieving Lt Gen J S Cheema. He was commissioned in December 1980 in the 13th battalion of the Kumaon Regiment and later commanded the same battalion. He has also commanded a mountain brigade at Lucknow and an infantry division in Meerut.
Lt Gen Sahrawat has also served as a military observer in Iraq and Kuwait and was the Director General in the Land, Works and Environment Directorate in the Army Headquarters prior to assuming command of the Corps.