Bikram Singh proposes key changes in Army

Three months in office, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh is picking "trustworthy" officers for top positions in the force to build his team, which is reflected in the recent proposal sent to the Defence Ministry.

Among the three key changes, which require the promotion of three Lt Gen rank officers, the most important one is the proposal to replace Lt Gen A K Choudhury with Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia as Director General of Military Operations.

Though officials in the Army Headquarters cited Choudhury's failing health as the reason for the change, the speculation that Choudhury, who took over the reins in January 2012, is believed to be one of the close associates of former Army Chief Gen V K Singh and that he may be shifted to a post of lesser prominence in Kolkata, makes the transition not so smooth.

Vinod Bhatia is currently serving as Director General of Infantry. Lt Gen J S Bajwa, currently the commandant of the Infantry School in Mhow, is likely to move to Delhi as DG, Infantry.

The new chief has also proposed the name of Lt General Ranbir Singh, currently with Strategic Forces Command (SFC), as the new Director General of Assam Rifles, a para-military force deployed in the North-East. The force is bereft of a chief after Lt Gen Rameshwar Roy was removed from the post of DG on charges of impropriety.

However, the Defence Ministry is yet to approve the Army chief’s appointments, as the proposal was sent only a week ago.

Incidentally, all the three Lieutenant Generals worked closely with Gen Bikram Singh during his stint as Eastern Army Commander. While Bhatia was commanding 33 Corps in Siliguri, Bajwa was chief of staff at Fort Williams, Kolkata. Singh too was in Fort Williams as one of the senior staff officers.

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