Incumbent General Bipin Rawat is retiring on December 31 and would be succeeded by Lieutenant General Manoj Mukund Naravane who will serve until April 2022. Narvane is currently serving as the army’s Vice Chief. In his long military carrier stretching over a period of almost four decades, Lt Gen Naravane has served in numerous command and staff appointments. He is an alumnus of the National Defense Academy and the Indian Military Academy and began his service as a commissioned officer in the 7th battalion, the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in June 1980.
He has a vast experience of operating on the frontiers with China and Pakistan. Before taking over as the Vice Chief in September, he was heading the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command which looks at India’s eastern sectors of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. He has been the Defense Attaché to Myanmar, which gives him not only vast knowledge of that country, and of China as well. Naravane has also served in other key appointments in the North East. For example, he was a Brigade commander in Assam and the Inspector General Assam Rifles (North).
In relation to Pakistan, he has commanded the Ambala based 2 Strike Corps. Naravane also has adequate experience of dealing with counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, having commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion there.
Alongside his expertise in the practical field, Naravane also has a sound background in academics and training. He holds a master’s degree in Defense Studies from University of Madras, Chennai and an M.Phil. in Defense and Management Studies from Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore. Naravane has also attended the Defense Services Staff College, Wellington and the Army War College, Mhow. He has headed the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) as well, which looks at all training requirements of the army.
Narvane has number of awards and honors to his name. He has been awarded the ‘Sena Medal’ for command of his Battalion in Jammu and Kashmir, the ‘Vishisht Seva Medal’ for his services as the Inspector General Assam Rifles (North) in Nagaland and the ‘Ati Vishisht Seva Medal’ for command of a prestigious Strike Corps. He has also been honored with ‘Param Vishisht Seva Medal’ for his services as the General Officer Commanding of the Army Training Command.
Naravane is also a strong candidate for the new Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) post that PM Modi announced in his Independence Day speech earlier this year. The CDS is a high military office that oversees and coordinates the working of the three Services, and offers seamless tri-service views and single-point advice to the Executive (in India’s case, to the Prime Minister) on long-term defense planning and management, including manpower, equipment and strategy, and jointmanship in the operations. Yet, the exact modalities and the role would be decided by the high-level implementation committee by national security adviser Ajit Doval.