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General Naravane Takes Charge as India’s Next Army Chief

This is the first time the government has followed the principle of appointing the army chief on seniority only. 

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Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim, Sandeep Suman

General Manoj Mukund Naravanehas has taken office as the new Chief of Army Staff on Tuesday, 31 December. He replaced General Bipin Rawat, who has been appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff overlooking all three branches of defence services and a new Department of Military Affairs.

Naravane was commissioned in the 7th Sikh Light infantry in June 1980 and is an alumnus of the 56th course of the National Defence Academy. Once he takes over, chiefs of all three Indian defence services will be from the 56th course of the National Defence Academy. He will also be the third chief from the Sikh Light Regiment in the past 20 years.

He holds a master's degree in Defence Studies from the University of Madras and an M.Phil in Defence and Management Studies. His elder brother, now retired, also served in the armed forces.

In his illustrious service, he has been decorated with several awards for his service including Sena Medal (Distinguished) for his command in Jammu and Kashmir and Vashisht Sena Medal for his service in Assam Rifles.

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Counter-Insurgency Expertise

In nearly 40 years of service, Naravane has commanded several counter-insurgency posts in Jammu Kashmir and Assam. He commanded the 2nd Battalion Rashtriya Rifles in Jammu and Kashmir and the Assam Rifles on Eastern Command. He was also part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka during Operation Pawan.

His other staff assignments also include being the Assistant Adjutant & Quartermaster General (AA&QMG) of Headquarters Establishment No 22 and General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOCC) at Army Training Command from 1 December 2017 to 3 September 2018.

“We are no longer the Army of 1962. If China says don’t forget history, we also have to tell them the same thing.”
General Manoj Mukund Naravane during his term as Commander in Chief-Eastern Command

An Expert on China

An expert on China and Myanmar, he was stationed as the Indian Defence Attache to Myanmar for three years.

In response to India’s recent abrogation of Kashmir’s administrative status, China has actively voiced its concerns and protested over the decision. After diplomatic meetings between India and China on 22 December, the two sides agreed “that pending the final resolution of the boundary question, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.”

Speaking at an event of Bharat Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata on 28 August 2019, he addressed the 2017 Doklam standoff between India and China.

“I do not see 1962 (India-Sino War) as a black mark on the Army at all and the armed forces... but we have learnt our lessons on what went wrong. And over the years we have been trying to bridge that capability gap. It is not easy to overcome these gaps in a short time frame, we have budgetary constraints.”
Lt General Manoj Mukund Naravane
“We have come a long way and China especially realises that. In fact, China was caught unprepared in the Doklam standoff.”
General Manoj Mukund Naravane
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Strategy for Modernisation of Indian Army

Gen Naravane has on several occasions reiterated the importance of establishing clear channels of communication and agreements between the Ministry of Defence and the domestic contractors for procurement.

As Vice Chief of Army Staff, he has pushed for procurement spending to be directed to national sources and invited young start-ups to also put forward their inventions.

“In the coming years we would be spending a lot on security and defence as a whole. It should be our endeavour that in the coming years most of this expenditure that we are going to incur should stay within the country and not go abroad.”
General Manoj Mukund Naravane

He further added that technological expertise is a necessity in future wars that India may engage in. According to him, the sheer numbers of a military will not be enough in the coming years.

In his speech, he assured young start-ups that doors barring them from bidding on tender applications will soon open and the process will become less cumbersome for both sides.

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