Govt names next navy chief, superseding one admiral - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.

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Saturday, 23 March 2019

Govt names next navy chief, superseding one admiral


Admiral Karambir Singh will be the first helicopter pilot to head the Indian Navy

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 23rd March 19

Setting aside the principle of seniority, the government on Saturday named Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next chief of naval staff (CNS). The current CNS, Admiral Sunil Lanba, who is due to retire on May 31, will hand over charge to Singh that day.

Singh, who is from the 1980 batch, will supersede Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, the current Commander in Chief Andaman & Nicobar (CINCAN), who was commissioned in 1979. Verma is the younger brother of Admiral Nirmal Verma, who was CNS from 2009-12.

With the chief of army staff, General Bipin Rawat, having superseded two of his seniors in being appointed army chief, this will be the first time since independence that two of the three service chiefs will be the government’s chosen men.

No air force chief has been appointed through supersession. The army has had just one supersession before Rawat’s appointment – when General Arun Vaidya superseded Lieutenant General SK Sinha in 1983. 

Verma’s supersession was anticipated within the New Delhi grapevine. Since February 2016 he has remained in the smaller and less consequential Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), even as his juniors were given command of the navy’s two main commands. In October 2017, Singh was appointed chief of the Visakhapatnam based eastern command and, in January, Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar P was placed at the head of the Mumbai-based western naval command. 

Verma’s chances were reportedly undermined by the navy’s infamous “war room leaks” case in 2005, while he was principle director of naval operations. His proximity to the case earned him a Letter of Displeasure, while three of his subordinates were dismissed from service. However a Letter of Displeasure is valid only for a limited period of time and Verma was duly promoted from commodore to rear admiral and then vice admiral, at which rank he was also cleared to head the ANC. It remains unclear whether that Letter of Displeasure was now used to deny Verma the CNS position.

Within the naval fraternity, which sets great store by seniority, there is lingering unease about this supersession. “While appointing a service chief, the existing fleet commanders-in-chief should be superseded only for very good reasons. I presume the government has such a reason. In any case, supersession should be an exception, not the norm,” said former navy chief, Admiral Arun Prakash.

Karambir Singh’s career record has been unblemished. He has served as a helicopter pilot, flying the navy’s Chetaks and Kamov choppers. While several aviators have been CNS, Singh is the first helicopter pilot to head the navy. Singh has also held four sea commands, including skippering a Coast Guard patrol craft, INS Chandbibi, the navy’s missile vessel INS Vijaydurg and two destroyers, INS Rana and INS Delhi.

6 comments:

  1. Is there a hint in the story that an officer under whose watch infamous war room leak took place should have been made the chief?
    The officer got away with a mild punishment while his subordinates were dismissed; may be being brother of soon to be chief at the time was only a coincidence

    ReplyDelete
  2. Most professional Navies select from a group of senior most Flag officers. In Chile its the senior most five. So if the fifth is selected the four superceded retire. Supersession is almost the norm. This strict seniority norm is infact detrimental as coteries develop.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In every country, running a country being a Team effort - and Armed Forces Chiefs being integral part of the Team - the Governments forms their Team. If the seniority suites, so be it. Otherwise, seniority is never the principal criteria. From the Armed Forces perspective, especially in peace time, the Chief better be the one who has a long term perspective for developement of the force and the one who has the capability of being able to convince the Government and get maximum share of the defence expenditure for his Service wing. Harping on seniority alone for such posts is not practical and many a times detrimental.

    ReplyDelete
  4. IN LUTYENS DELHI THE SELECTION IS DONE IN THE DELHI GOLF COURSE , INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE INDIA HABITAT CENTRE, GYMKHANA CLUB , CLARIDGES HOTEL BY A CATORIE OR SERVING RETD BABUS , SERVICE CHIEFS, ARMS DEALERS ,INTELLIGENCE MOLES , SHADY BUSINESSMEN AND BUSINESS HOUSES , PAID PRESS AND THE SERVICE REQUIREMENT COMES LAST .LACK OF TALENT VIEW POOR PAY PACKAGES , PERKS IS NOW SLOWLY FLOATING TO TOP AND INHERITING TOP BILLETS IN ALL THREE SERVICES .

    ReplyDelete
  5. When seniority isn't followed then the senior officers already start angling for the job by making connections with politocianp etc hence hence politicising the whole process. Case in point Gen Rawat ....and he's proven to be a spokesman for the govt and not the army ...biggest disappointment in the army ...just ask around ...now he will be angling for post retirement job and will definitely get it ...wait and watch

    ReplyDelete
  6. Do not rake controversies where there is none. Selection merely based on seniority is neither fundamental right nor a constitutional provision. Supreme court has clearly ruled it in Lt Gen Ravi Dastane (retd) case.

    If seniority only would be the criteria then why have a selection panel ? Is Cabinet Committee on Appointment a bunch of fools?

    There are more than for selection.
    There more than one who select. Period.

    ReplyDelete

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