• Gen Manoj Pande hangs his boots

 By Sangeeta Saxena

 New Delhi. 30 June 2024. It was a moment of nostalgia for the Corps of Engineers specially Bombay Sappers, as the first time Sappers Chief was hanging his boots. It is time for change of guard at South Block. General Manoj Pande Chief of Army Staff walked down the South Block lawns in his capacity of leader of the best Army, for the last time and was presented a Ceremonial Guard of Honour as he relinquished the appointment.

So now lets shift focus to the man who is the cynosure of all eyes. Who is General Upendra Dwivedi, PVSM, AVSM the new Indian Army Chief?

General Upendra Dwivedi assumed command of the Indian Army on 30 Jun 24. Prior to this, he was Vice Chief of the Army Staff from Feb 24 onwards. He is the recipient of Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and three GOC-in-C Commendation cards.

He hails from Madhya Pradesh and has studied in Sainik School Rewa (MP). He joined the prestigious National Defence Academy in January 1981 and was commissioned into the 18th Battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles on 15 Dec 1984, which he later commanded in the Kashmir valley and the deserts of Rajasthan. From his school days, he was an outstanding sportsman and excelled in both NDA and IMA, where he was awarded the Blue in Physical Training. He continued to excel post commissioning and was awarded the gold medal in the Physical Training Course.

           Gen Manoj Pande taking the final salute

General officer has a unique distinction of balanced exposure along Northern,Western and Eastern Theatres, in varied terrain and operational environment including Deserts, High Altitude, Riverine, Built Up area, North East and Jammu and Kashmir. He commanded his battalion in active Counter Terrorist operations in Kashmir Valley and in Rajasthan Deserts. He has been IGAR (GOC) and Sector Cdr Assam Rifles in intense CT Ops     and held various other Staff & Command appointments in the North East where he pioneered the first ever compendium on Indo-Myanmar Border Management.

Subsequently he commanded Rising Star Corps along Western front and prestigious Northern Army from 2022-2024 in extremely challenging operational environment. During his command, he provided Strategic guidance & Operational oversight for planning and execution of sustained operations along the Northern & Western borders, besides orchestrating the dynamic counter Terrorism operations in J&K.

He was also involved in modernising and equipping of the largest Command of the Indian Army, where he steered the induction of Indigenous equipment as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat. He synergised with people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh for convergent Nation Building outcomes and infrastructure development. He has varied staff exposures which includes handling conventional operations of Armoured Brigade in the Punjab plains, providing logistical support to a Mountain Division in North East along the Northern Borders and operations of a Strike Corps in Deserts. At IHQ HQ (Army), he contributed significantly in Military Secretary’s branch and was instrumental in raising of a section in Military Operations Directorate. Later, as the DG Infantry he steered and fast-tracked Capital procurement cases of weapons for all the three services, leading to significant and visible capability enhancement for our Armed Forces.

Gen Manoj Pande signing the visitor’s book at War Memorial last time as COAS

As Deputy Chief, he gave impetus towards automation and absorption of niche tech in the Indian Army. Being a tech enthusiast, he worked towards enhancing the tech threshold of all ranks in Northern Command and pushed for Critical & Emerging Techs like Big Data Analytics, AI, Quantum and Blockchain based solutions.

The officer’s two overseas tenures include Somalia, as part of HQ UNOSOM II and Seychelles as Military Advisor to the Government of Seychelles. Besides, attending Staff College, Wellington & Higher Command Course at AWC, Mhow, the officer was conferred ‘Distinguished Fellow’ in the coveted NDC equivalent course at USAWC, Carlisle, USA. Complementing his illustrious military career, are an M Phil in Defence & Management Studies, in addition to the two Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies and Military Science including one from USAWC, USA. He has authored / presented articles in various professional forums / Journals.

He is married to Mrs Sunita Dwivedi, a science graduate, who is a home maker. Mrs Sunita Dwivedi has been associated with Aarushi, an institute for special ability children at Bhopal. The couple are blessed with two daughters who are working with NGOs. General officer is a skilled Yoga practitioner.

Another saga of success in creating ultimate leaders is emanating from the small erstwhile princely state of Central India Rewa in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The new Chief is an alumnus of Sainik School Rewa. This cradle of soldiers is today narrating with pride it’s history of having given not only  braves and bravehearts but also two out of three present chiefs. Both The Army and Navy chiefs are alumni of the school and incidentally both are course mates. Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi and Admiral Dinesh Tripathi are classmates and are leading the Indian Army and Navy as service chiefs for the first time in the country’s military history. This story of two boys who studied in the same class from grade 5th at Sainik School, Rewa, Madhya Pradesh is a great one, From  Rewa to Raisina – what a journey of life!