M A I N   N E W S

Superseded Vice-Admiral wants justice or retirement
Finding new Vice-Chief to be Admiral Dhowan’s priority
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 18
New Chief of Naval Staff Admiral RK Dhowan has his priorities clearly laid out. These include boosting morale of the force whose image has taken a beating following a spate of accidents and look for a new deputy-the Vice-Chief.

Admiral Dhowan still holds the charge as the Vice-Chief, a post to which he was appointed in August 2011. He needs to take a call on whether to move one of the three remaining Vice-Admirals into the office or bring in someone from the next in line of succession and groom him.

The position altered after Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha, the senior-most serving Vice-Admiral whom the new Navy Chief superseded, put in his papers last evening.

(A PTI report said upset over being superseded for the post of Navy Chief, Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha has filed a complaint with the Defence Ministry and said if “justice” was not done to him, he would take voluntary retirement.

In his letter to the ministry, he has reportedly complained against being overlooked for appointment to the top post. Sinha has also told the government if “justice” cannot be done to him, he should be given voluntary retirement.)

Admiral Sinha, who is currently the Commander-in-Chief of the Western Command, will have to wait till a new person is identified to take the charge even as his application is put through the process by the Navy.

Of the others senior Vice-Admirals, Eastern Commander Anil Chopra is scheduled to retire in March 2015, Southern Commander Satish Soni in February 2016 and SPS Cheema (who heads the Integrated Command) also around the same time.

Those next in the line of succession include Vice-Admiral Sunil Lanba, Commandant of National Defence College, and his successor as the Eastern Chief of Staff, Admiral Bimal Verma.

With the Chief having identified his priorities, former naval officers re-emphasise that maintenance and training remain the key to ensuring that the platforms, both ageing and new, serve the force to the optimum capacity.

Captain Alok Bansal (retd), who is now with the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, said maintenance of ageing fleet would be a challenge for Admiral Dhowan.

“Due to resource crunch in the 1990s, the procurement process was held up and the challenge for the new Chief will be to overcome the bureaucratic delays,” he said.

Commander Ranjit Rai (retd), who was Admiral Dhowan’s boss in the Directorate of Naval Operations in the 1980s, said the new Chief had never headed an operational command, but that would not be any handicap.

Don’t appoint Army Chief before May 16: BJP

Amid reports that the Defence Ministry has initiated the process of appointing Vice-Chief of the Army Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next Army Chief, the BJP on Friday sounded a word of caution to the government and asked it to avoid taking decisions till elections were over. Present Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh retires on July 31. “On the larger issue of naming the next General and reports about Lokpal appointment, we expect that when we are in the midst of elections, at least till May 16 all these things must be avoided,” said BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad. — PTI





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