<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Saturday named Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Indian Army as the next Army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The decision could trigger a controversy as Rawat has superseded Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is heading the Eastern Command, and Lt Gen PM Hariz, heading the Southern Command.The government also appointed Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil veteran, as the next Air Force chief. He will succeed Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who, along with Suhag, retires on December 31.“Government has decided to appoint Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Army staff, as the next Chief of Army Staff with effect from the afternoon of December 31,” the Defence Ministry said in a tweet.Sources said Lt Gen Rawat was found best suited among the Lt Generals to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.They said Lt Gen Rawat has tremendous hands-on experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the North-East.According to convention, chiefs of armed forces are announced at least two months in advance, but the delay this time was leading to confusion. Lt Gen Rawat was commissioned in Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, and was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’.An alumni of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, the Higher Command and National Defence College Courses, Rawat, in his over 35 years of service, was awarded for gallantry and distinguished service.Supersession in the Army is not new. There has not been any such instances in the recent past though. In 1983, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed Lt Gen A S Vaidya as Army Chief superseding Lt Gen S K Sinha, who resigned in protest.In 1972, the Gandhi government side-stepped the very popular Lt General P S Bhagat, one of the handful of Indian Victoria Cross awardees from World War II, who was in line to succeed General (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw.Defence ministry sources said that Lt Gen Hariz had no experience in operational areas in terms of counter-insurgency or seeing action along the LoC.—With inputs from PTI

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Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air Force