Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Manoj Pande has been appointed as the 29th Chief of Army Staff, becoming 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 Army.
He will take over on April 30 when the incumbent Gen 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 presently the seniormost and front runner for the post.
The tenure of Service Chiefs is 62 years of age or three years whichever is earlier while the age limit for the CDS is 65 years of age with no fixed tenure defined.
Lt Gen Pande was commissioned in December 1982 into the Corps of Engineers (The Bombay Sappers). 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 till January 31 he served as the 15th Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman & Nicobar Command (CINCAN).
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. 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 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 North East.
Lt Gen Pande is also The Colonel Commandant of The Bombay Sappers.