The most significant transfers effected by Gen Bikram Singh was that of former Director General Military Operations, Lt Gen AK Choudhury, to an insignificant, non-operational post as General Officer Commanding, Bengal Area, based in Kolkata, reports RS Chauhan
Exactly three months after becoming India's Army chief, Gen Bikram Singh has effected a top-level reshuffle of his generals to bring in people he trusts.
The most significant among them was the transfer of former Director General Military Operations, Lt Gen AK Choudhury, to an insignificant, non-operational post as General Officer Commanding, Bengal Area, based in Kolkata.
The DGMO is among the seven or eight PSOs (Principal Staff Officers) posted at the Army Headquarters and is considered a high-pressure and high-profile job since he is the man who controls movements, operations and deployment of troops, liaises with his Pakistani counterpart on a weekly basis and is the hands-on man for the Army's involvement in aid to civil authority or humanitarian assistance.
Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, who was posted as Director General Infantry -- DG, Infantry -- was brought in to replace Lt Gen Choudhury, while Lt Gen JS Bajwa, heading the Infantry School at Mhow, will replace Lt Gen Bhatia as the new DG Infantry.
Lt Gen AS Nandal, who was posted as GOC of the Nagrota (Jammu)-based 16 Corps, considered to be one of India's largest field formation in terms of troops deployed, will move to Mhow to take over from Lt Gen Bajwa.
Earlier, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, who was posted as the Army's representative in the tri-services Strategic Forces Command, which handles India's nuclear weapons deployment, was sent to Shillong as DG, Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force primarily deployed in the north-east. His replacement at SFC, Lt. Gen DS Hooda (who was in the post for barely a fortnight), will take over the 16 Corps under Northern Command.
Apart from the DGMO, the most significant transfer is that of Lt Gen VK Pillai, heading the Delhi area, as GOC, of ATN&KK (Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala) area based in Chennai. Lt Gen S Mitra swaps his post with Lt Gen VK Pillai.
Delhi Area GoC is normally a handpicked man considered to be confidant of the Army chief. Lt. Gen VK Pillai, a Rajput Regiment officer, was chosen by Gen Bikram Singh's predecessor, Gen VK Singh, to be in Delhi.
It is noteworthy that Lt Gens Vinod Bhatia, Ranbir Singh and JS Bajwa had worked closely under Gen Bikram Singh when he was Eastern Army Commander before taking over as Army chief on June 1.
Although all chiefs have the right and prerogative to choose their own team, normally PSOs -- even if appointed by previous chiefs -- normally serve out their time. But Gen Bikram Singh clearly has different ideas.