- First Sapper officer to become the Chief
- Colonel Commandant Bombay Sappers is set to be Indian Army Chief
By Sangeeta Saxena
New Delhi. 18 April 2022. There was no slip between the cup and the lip this time and history did not repeat itself. Lt. General Manoj Pande, a Sapper Officer, the Vice Chief of Army Staff will be the next Indian Army Chief. For the first time in the history of Indian Army and India, an officer from the Corps of Engineers is all set to take the reins of the force which needs no introduction only accolades- the Indian Army. The nearest Indian Army came to getting a Sappers Chief was when Lt. General PS Bhagat was Vice Chief but the government of the day decided to give Lt. Gen Bewoor a nine months extension thereby shattering all hopes of Sappers’ to see Lt Gen Bhagat as the next Chief. Exactly 49 years after this, the Corps of Engineers is all set to give Indian Army its Chief.
Lieutenant General Manoj Chandrashekhar Pande PVSM, AVSM, VSM is a serving General Officer in the Indian Army. He is currently serving as the Vice Chief of the Army Staff since 1 February 2022 and is also the Colonel Commandant Bombay Sappers by virtue of being the senior most serving Bombay Sappers officer . Previously, he served as the General Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command, having taken over on 1 June 2021. He previously commanded the Andaman and Nicobar Command as the Commander-in-Chief (CINCAN). He will assume office on 1 May when he will be the first Engineer to become the Chief of the Army staff.
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 holds it currently.
And today on 18th of April 2022 Lt. General Manoj Pande has been appointed the Chief of Army Staff making every Sapper proud. Indian Army will now have a technocrat general leading it.