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Lt. Gen. Manoj Pande

The Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Manoj Pande, has been appointed the 29th Chief of the Army Staff, a Defence Ministry statement said on Monday.

He is the first officer from the Corps of Engineers and also the first from combat support arms — the combat arms being infantry, artillery and armoured — to head the 1.3-million Indian Army.

He will take over on April 30 when the incumbent, General Manoj Naravane, is set to retire.

Appointment is still awaited for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) which has fallen vacant following the untimely demise of the country’s first CDS, Gen. Bipin Rawat, in a chopper crash in December. Gen. Naravane is at present the senior-most and front runner for the post.

The Service chiefs can continue in office till 62 years of age or for three years, whichever is earlier, while the age limit for the CDS is 65 with no fixed tenure defined.

Lt. Gen. Pande was commissioned in December 1982 into the Corps of Engineers (The Bombay Sappers).

Top responsibilities

He took over as Vice Chief on February 1 and prior to that was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command.

From June 1 to January 31 he served as the 15th Commanding-in-Chief of the Andaman & Nicobar Command (CINCAN).

He is also the Colonel Commandant of the Bombay Sappers.

Once he takes over as Chief, all the three Service Chiefs will be from the 61st Course at the National Defence Academy (NDA). Lt. Gen. Pande is a graduate of Staff College, Camberley (United Kingdom), and attended the Higher Command Course at Army War College, Mhow and National Defence College (NDC) at Delhi.

UN Mission

He was posted as Chief Engineer at the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The General Officer has commanded 117 Engineer Regiment during Operation PARAKRAM in Pallanwala Sector of Jammu and Kashmir, along the Line of Control (LoC).

He commanded an Engineer Regiment along the LoC, an Engineer Brigade as part of the Strike Corps, an Infantry Brigade along the LoC, a Mountain Division in high altitude area of western Ladakh and a Corps deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as also in counter insurgency operations area in the Northeast region.

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