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Saturday, May 18, 2024

The new Army chief

Around eight years ago, when he was Brigadier, Manoj Pande was posted to the headquarters of Eastern Command as the Brigadier General Staff (Operations), one of the most important positions there. His immediate boss was the late General Bipin Rawat who was Major General Staff. Rawat’s boss at that time was General Dalbir Singh Suhag, the Eastern Army Commander. All three would go on to become Army Chief.

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Around eight years ago, when he was Brigadier, Manoj Pande was posted to the headquarters of Eastern Command as the Brigadier General Staff (Operations), one of the most important positions there. His immediate boss was the late General Bipin Rawat who was Major General Staff. Rawat’s boss at that time was General Dalbir Singh Suhag, the Eastern Army Commander. All three would go on to become Army Chief. While Suhag took over as the 26th Army Chief in July 2014, Rawat became the 27th Army Chief in December 2016 and the country’s first Chief of Defense Staff in January 2020. General Pande took over this month as the 29th Army Chief. The 28th Chief of the Army, General MM Naravane, was also posted in Eastern Command Assam Rifles at that time. There was one thing though that put General Pande, 60, apart from rest. He is the country’s first Army Chief to have risen to the top of the Corps of Engineers.

Those aware of their military history tell you how the legendary US Army Chief of the early 1930 and Second World War, Douglas MacArthur, once finished top of his class at the Corps of Engineers. General Pande similarly stood first in the Young Officers’ Course of the Corps of Engineers, and now has broken a glass ceiling in the Indian Army to rise to the top. The Army so far has Chiefs only from infantry, Armoured Corps, or the Artillery. Lt Gen (retd) Sanjay Kulkarni, who served as boss to both Gen. Rawat and Pande as Chief of Staff of Eastern Army Command, says he saw Pande at “close circles quarters” as a Brigadier, and remembers him as one of the brightest officers at the command. As Brigadier General Staff, one of Pande’s most important tasks was to brief the command’s leadership about all operational aspects every morning. From seniors to juniors to batch-mates, others too vouch for Pande’s attention to detail and his keenness to know things, while also talking about his sincerity and humility and soft-spoken, mild nature. In that, many say, he is closer to his immediate predecessor Naravane than say the late Rawat who was flamboyant and often found himself in a rough patch over his remarks.

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General Pande’s batchmate from the National Defense Academy, Maj Gen (retd) Ajay Seth says: “He is a quiet person, doesn’t talk much. But he talks sense when he speaks. He is not a showman.” Seth says they got to know each other well a few years after the NDA and recalls the time the two of them prepared for their first promotion exams in the late 1980s. “Our center was Yol in Himachal Pradesh… My commanding officer had not granted me leave, but I had managed some time and made notes. I asked him about his preparations. He said “I have not prepared at all, Ajay. You have to help me.” Eventually, they worked out a system where Seth would have shared his notes with Pande during the night, and Pande would return them for the latter to prepare early morning. “Both of us cleared all the papers in the first attempt,” Seth says, adding that friendship endured. “I always tell him that you cleared exams because of my notes,” he added. But with just that amount of study, he cleared it in one attempt!”

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
Welcome to The Hills Times, your trusted source for daily news and updates in English from the heart of Assam, India. Since our establishment in 2000, we've been dedicated to providing timely and accurate information to our readers in Diphu and Guwahati. As the first English newspaper in the then undemarcated Karbi Anglong district, we've forged a strong connection with diverse communities and age groups, earning a reputation for being a reliable source of news and insights. In addition to our print edition, we keep pace with the digital age through our website, https://thehillstimes.in, where we diligently update our readers with the latest happenings day by day. Whether it's local events, regional developments, or global news, The Hills Times strives to keep you informed with dedication and integrity. Join us in staying ahead of the curve and exploring the world through our lens.
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