New Delhi, April 30 (PTI): Gen Manoj Pande on Saturday took charge as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff after incumbent Gen MM Naravane retired from service.
Gen Pande, who was serving as the vice chief, became the first-ever officer from the Corps of Engineers to take the reins of the 1.3 million-strong force.
Before taking charge as vice chief of Army Staff on February 1, Gen Pande was heading the Eastern Army Command that takes care of guarding the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh sectors.
Gen Pande took charge of the Army at a time India is facing myriad security challenges including along the borders with China and Pakistan.
As the chief of Army Staff, he will also have to coordinate with the Navy and the Indian Air Force in the implementation of the government’s plan to roll out the theatre commands and ensure tri-services synergy.
The theaterisation plan was being implemented by India’s first chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen Bipin Rawat who died in a helicopter crash in December last. The government is yet to appoint Gen Rawat’s successor.
On the last day of his service, Gen Naravane called on President Ram Nath Kovind, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces. He also met Defence minister Rajnath Singh.
“Had a wonderful meeting with the Army chief, General MM Naravane, who is going to retire today after serving the nation for 42 years. His contributions as a military leader has strengthened India’s defence capabilities & preparedness,” the Defence minister tweeted.
Gen Naravane was accorded a guard of honour at the South Block lawns.
In his distinguished career, Gen Pande also served as the commander-in-chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN) which is India’s only tri-services command.
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he was commissioned in the Corps of Engineers (The Bombay Sappers) in December 1982.
Gen Pande has held several prestigious command and staff assignments in conventional as well as counter-insurgency operations in all types of terrain.
He commanded an engineer regiment along the Line of Control during operation Parakram in Jammu and Kashmir, an engineer brigade in the western sector, an infantry brigade along LoC and a mountain division in high altitude area of western Ladakh and a Corps in the Northeast.
His staff exposures include Brigade Major of a Mountain Brigade in the North East, Assistant Military Secretary (AMS) in the Military Secretary’s Branch and Brigadier General Staff (Operations) at headquarters of Eastern Command.
The general officer has served as chief engineer in the United Nations mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
He has also served as the additional director general in the military operations directorate at Army headquarters and as chief of staff, at headquarters of the Southern Command.
For his illustrious service, he has been conferred with the award Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal, the chief of Army Staff Commendation and twice with GOC-in-C Commendation.
“Air chief Marshal VR Chaudhari #CAS and all personnel of #IAF congratulate General Manoj Pande on assuming office as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff. The #IndianArmy will surely benefit from his vast and varied operational experience,” the Indian Air Force said in a tweet.