Lieutenant General Baggavalli Somashekar Raju will take over as the next army vice chief on May 1, replacing Lieutenant General Manoj Pande who takes charge as India’s 29th army chief after General Manoj Mukund Naravane completes his term in the top job, officials familiar with the development said.
Taking to Twitter, Additional Directorate General of Public Information, IHQ of MoD (Army) said, "General MM Naravane #COAS & All Ranks of #IndianArmy congratulate Lieutenant General BS Raju on being appointed as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff #VCOAS of #IndianArmy. Lt Gen BS Raju will assume the appointment of #VCOAS on 01 May 2022."
Raju will succeed incumbent Lt Gen Manoj Pande who will take the reins of the 1.3 million-strong Army after Army Chief Gen MM Naravane completes his term.
An alumnus of Sainik School Bijapur and National Defence Academy, Raju was commissioned in the Jat Regiment on December 15, 1984.
In a military career spanning 38 years, Gen Raju commanded his battalion during Op Parakram in the western theatre and in Jammu and Kashmir, the Uri brigade along the Line of Control, a counter-insurgency force and the Srinagar-based HQs 15 Corps. He has also served as the commandant of the Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan, the army said in a statement on his appointment.
“He has tenanted many important regimental, staff and instructional appointments in the army headquarters and in field formations,” it said.
He is a qualified helicopter pilot who carried out operational flying in Somalia as part of a United Nations peace mission.
Raju has undergone important career courses in India and attended the Royal College of Defence Studies, United Kingdom. He also holds a Master’s degree in counter terrorism from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, United States.
Meanwhile, General Pande will be the first officer from the Corps of Engineers, also known as sappers, to become army chief. Officers from the sappers have served as army commanders and vice chiefs, but never held the army chief’s position.
Pande will take over as chief at a time when India is working on a road map for the military’s theaterisation to best utilise the resources of the three services for future wars and operations.
India’s first chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash last December, was spearheading the theaterisation drive. The government is yet to appoint a successor. The CDS’s demise was seen as a setback to the ongoing military reforms, including theaterisation.