From one Manoj to another
- First Sapper to become Army Chief
- The soft spoken , humane but stern General Manoj Mukund Naravane will be missed
By Sangeeta Saxena
New Delhi. 30 April 2022. It was moment of two firsts when General Manoj Pande took on the baton of Indian Army from General Manoj Mukund Naravane. For the first time the Chief of Army Staff is a Sapper Officer and for the first time both the outgoing Army Chief and the new incumbent share their first names. It was a historic day indeed for the Bombay Sappers when its Colonel Commandant took over the reigns of the Indian Army from its Senior Colonel Commandant.
The 29th Chief General Pande is a Corps of Engineers General Cadre Officer from the Bombay Sappers with an illustrious professional background. Having been the Army Commander, Commander of the joint services command and the Vice Chief of Indian Army, General Pande will inherit legacy challenges of unsettled border disputes and current geopolitical challenges with not so friendly neighbours. He will have a tenure of more than two years as Chief and will have to focus on Ladakh issue, the theaterisation, indigenisation drive for arms and equipment and perpetual preparedness for war. All the four points he will be carrying over from his predecessor.
Assessing the needs of the soldier stationed both at field and peace locations will be one of the priorities along the need of improving training for joint services operations. His experience of CINCAN will be a great asset in the latter.
Pande was commissioned into the Bombay Sappers, one of the regiments in the Corps of Engineers, in December 1982. He attended the Staff College, Camberley in the United Kingdom. After completing the course, he returned to India and was appointed brigade major of a mountain brigade in Northeast India. After promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he served as the Chief Engineer at the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Pande has commanded the 117 Engineer Regiment along the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir. He was in command of the regiment during Operation Parakram. He then attended the Army War College, Mhow and completed the Higher Command Course. After the course, he was appointed Colonel Q at HQ 8 Mountain Division. He was then promoted to the rank of Brigadier and given command of an Engineer brigade as part of a Strike Corps in the western theatre. He also commanded the 52 Infantry Brigade, positioned along the LOC. Pande was selected to attend the prestigious National Defence College. After completing the course, he was appointed Brigadier General Staff Operations (BGS-Ops) at HQ Eastern Command.
After promotion to the rank of Major General, Pande took command of 8 Mountain Division which was involved in high-altitude operations in western Ladakh. He then served a tenure in the Military Operations directorate at Army Headquarters as the Additional Director General (ADG). Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General, he served as the Chief of Staff of the Southern Command. On 30 December 2018, Pande took command of the IV Corps at Tezpur from Lieutenant General Gurpal Singh Sangha. The corps is deployed along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as well as in Counter-insurgency operations in the North-East. After about a year-and-a half at the helm of IV Corps, he moved to Army HQ and was appointed Director General dealing with subjects of Discipline, Ceremonial and Welfare.
On 30 April 2020, Pande was appointed the next Commander-in-Chief, Andaman and Nicobar Command (CINCAN). He assumed command on 1 June 2020 after the incumbent Lt Gen P S Rajeshwar superannuated on 31 May 2020. A year later, he was appointed General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command. He handed over charge of CINCAN to Lieutenant General Ajai Singh on 31 May and took command of the Eastern Command on 1 June. He had been appointed as the next Vice Chief of the Army Staff succeeding Lieutenant General Chandi Prasad Mohanty on his superannuation on 31 January 2022 and held it till this morning, before taking over as the Chief of Army Staff.
ADU bids a fond good bye to General MM Naravane and will always cherish its association with him as Chief. A great soldier and an ultimate human being he is. Congratulations General Manoj Pande on becoming the Chief and making all us Bombay Sappers proud. We are blessed to be a part of this history in the making.