Government has announced Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Chief of Naval Staff. Karambir, who is heading the Vizag based eastern naval command will take over from incumbent Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on May 31.
Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, a helicopter pilot, has extensive experience in flying the HAL Chetak and Kamov Ka-25 helicopters and has commanded numerous ships including INS Vijaydurg, INS Rana and INS Delhi. Karamabir, who is from Haryana, is considered to be the officer for taking tough decisions.
In his career spanning nearly 36 years, Karambir has commanded an Indian Coast Guard Ship, a Naval Missile Corvette as well as Guided Missile Destroyers. He has also served as the fleet operations officer of the Western Fleet. Ashore, the Admiral has served at naval headquarters as the joint director naval air staff, and as captain air and officer-in-charge of the Naval Air Station at Mumbai. He has also served as a member of the Aircrew Instrument Rating and Categorisation Team (AIRCATS).
In selecting Karamabir for the top post in Navy, government has ignored the seniority principal, as vice admiral Bimal Verma, Chief of Andaman and Nicobar command, is the senior most naval officer after Sunil Lanba. Despite being the senior most, Bimal Verma was moved away to Andaman and Nicobar Command, which was earlier not considered as an important posting in Navy circles. However, of late, Andaman and Nicobar Command was given importance in India's strategic vision, as it closely follows the movement of PLA Navy ships moving in the region and other activities in the Indian Ocean Region.
Verma is the younger brother of former navy chief Nirmal Verma. But, his name was dragged into investigation into the Navy war room leak episode, as he was the principal director of naval operations when the case came to light. Later on, he was let off and given important postings including India's naval attache to Iran and subsequently commanded INS Delhi class warship.
The government had ignored the seniority principal last time, too, when it appointed General Bipin Rawat by superseding two senior officers. After Navy chief, selection of next Chief of Indian Air Force and Army Chief are also on the cards later in the year. IAF Chief B.S. Dhanoa is completing his tenure in October, while Army Chief General Bipin Rawat is superannuating in December. But these decision will be taken by the new government at the centre.
In between, the government will also find a successor for chief of Indian Coast Guard Rajender Singh, who is retiring in June.
Three probable names have emerged as successor to Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, who has gone through a tough time facing the oppositions criticism on Rafale deal. Air Marshal B. Suresh, heading Trivandrum based Southern Air Command, is considered to be the front runner as he has received lot of praise for IAF's role in relief and rescue operation during last year's flood in Kerala.
Air marshal Balakrishnan Suresh, who hails from Trivandrum, will be the senior most IAF officer when Dhanoa completes his tenure in September. Then comes name of Air Marshal H.S. Arora, who is heading Jodhpur based South Western Air Command. He has rich and diverse experience of accident-free operational flying, which includes MiG 21, MiG 29 and other aircraft in IAF inventory, including helicopters.
Air Marshal RKS Bhaduria, who is heading the training command, and Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, western air command chief, are also being considered as the next chief of world's fourth strongest air force.
Last will be the selection of next Army Chief to replace General Bipin Rawat, who will be completing an eventful three years in office. He often faces criticism from his fraternity for his outspoken and frank nature. Lt General Mukund Narwane, who is currently heading Kolkata based Eastern Army command, will be the senior most army officer after Rawat. Narwane hails from the politically significant city of Nagpur in Maharashtra. Northern Army Commander Lt. General Ranbir Singh follows Narwane. Singh had became the face of Indian army globally, when he publicly announced Indian Army's surgical strike in Pakistan occupied Kashmir in September 2016. Posted in the Director General of Military Operations, he also oversaw the Indian army's operation in the jungles of India-Myanmar in 2015.