File photo: Army Chief General Bikram Singh
The Army Chief General Bikram Singh, who has now been in office for three months, has started making changes in the top Army hierarchy.
Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia, currently Director General (DG) Infantry is likely to replace Lt Gen AK Choudhury in the crucial appointment of Director General Military Operations (DGMO).
Lt. Gen. Choudhury is likely to move to the East, taking over as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of an area, an appointment if much lower profile DGMO. Sources in Army HQ however insist that Lt. Gen. Choudhury is moving out on his own volition because of health reason and is not being downgraded.
Top sources say Lt General Ranbir Singh, who is currently with Strategic Forces Command (SFC) is set to take over as DG Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force primarily deployed in the north-east. This force has been without a DG for the past six months since the then DG, Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy was moved out on charges of impropriety.
Lieutenant General JS Bajwa, currently, the Commandant of the Infantry School in Mhow is likely to move to Delhi as DG Infantry.
It is not known who will replace Lieutenant Gen Ranbir Singh at SFC and Lt Gen Bajwa at the Infantry School, if the proposed postings go through.
Interestingly, Lieutenant Generals Bhatia, Bajwa and Ranbir Singh have worked closely with General Bikram Singh during his stint as Eastern Army Commander. While Lt. Gen. Bhatia was GOC, 33 Corps, based at Sukna, Lt Gen Bajwa was Chief of Staff and Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh was MGGS (Major General, General Staff) with the current Army Chief in Fort William, Kolkata.
The new appointments, proposed last week, are currently with the Defence Ministry.
Once implemented, Gen Bikram Singh would have put the stamp of his authority over the top hierarchy.
While eyebrows may be raised over the downgrading of the current DGMO--if that happens--the Army Chief is well within his rights to choose his own team.
Past Chiefs have brought in their own choices in crucial appointments. Apart from these top changes, several new divisional and Corps Commanders will be selected in the next six months as tenures of incumbent officers get completed and new promotions take place.