Newly appointed Chief of the Army Staff Lieutenant General Manoj Pande. Pande will assume charge on May 1. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: Lt. Gen. Manoj Pande has been appointed as the next Chief of the Indian Army. He will take over as the 29th Chief of the Army Staff from the outgoing chief, Gen. M.M. Naravane, on April 30. Lt. Gen. Pande, now serving as the Army’s vice-chief, will be the first officer commissioned into the Corps of Engineers to become Army Chief. The top position has been traditionally held by officers from the Army’s fighting arms – the Infantry, Armoured Corps and Artillery.
There is still no clarity on when the government will name the next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), with the post lying vacant after Gen. Bipin Rawat was killed along with his wife and 12 other military personnel during a helicopter crash on December 8. It is learnt the government is looking at both current and even retired four-star and three-star officers to fill the post of CDS.
Lt. Gen. Pande had earlier headed the Army’s crucial Eastern Command, headquartered at Fort William in Kolkata, which looks after the Line of Actual Control with China and also served as the commander-in-chief of India's only tri-services command, the Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN). He was the Army’s senior-most officer after the retirement of Gen. Naravane. In his 39-year military career, Lt. Gen. Pande has held important and challenging command and staff appointments in different operational environments.
Born on May 6, 1962, Lt. Gen. Pande was commissioned on December 24, 1982 in the Army’s Corps of Engineers (Bombay Sappers). He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and has undergone courses at Staff College, Camberley (UK), Army War College, Mhow, and National Defence College, New Delhi.
He has held command of an engineer brigade in the western theatre, as part of a strike corps, and an infantry brigade along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. His other key command appointments include a mountain division in the high-altitude area of western Ladakh. He has also served as chief engineer in the UN mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. He was also additional director-general of military operations at Army Headquarters and chief of staff of Southern Command. He is also the colonel commandant of the Bombay Sappers.