Can A 'Sapper' Lead The Indian Army?

Lt Gen. Pande was commissioned into the Bombay Sappers, a regiment in the Corps of Engineers, in December 1982, he will become the first Combat Engineer officer to hold command of the army.

Can A 'Sapper' Lead The Indian Army?

Lieutenant General Manoj Chandrashekhar Pande, PVSM, AVSM, VSM will take over as the next Chief of Army Staff on 1 May 2022. He will succeed General Manoj Mukund Naravane, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, who is set to complete his tenure on 30th April 2022.

Gen Manoj Pande’s appointment as the Vice Chief of Army Staff led to a lot of speculation, that will he be promoted to head the fourth largest Army in the world.

For the uninitiated, it is important to understand what a Sapper Officer is, and the responsibility on his shoulders is far beyond those who are from other Arms, Combat Support Arms and Services. While each has its own important role to play in our environment of No War No Peace, this is to qualify why the General Officer is well qualified to lead.

What do Engineers do as their primary and secondary task?

In war, Combat Engineers provide mobility to own forces by constructing bridges, tracks and helipads; on the other hand, the Corps denies the same to the enemy by creating obstacles such as laying mine-fields and demolition of bridges.

In a defensive deployment having carried out their primary tasks, they dig up defences and fight as the Infantry.

The officers are trained at College of Military Engineering Pune and undergo a degree course and some pursue their Masters, in pursuit of excellence.

Lt Gen. Pande is currently the vice chief of the army, prior to this he was in charge of the Eastern Command. He has also commanded the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC)—a special tri-service command that safeguards India's strategic interests in Southeast Asia.

Lt Gen. Pande was commissioned into the Bombay Sappers, a regiment in the Corps of Engineers, in December 1982, he will become the first Combat Engineer officer to hold command of the army.

He has commanded 117 Engineer Regiment along the Line of Control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir. He opted to become part of the General Cadre and has commanded a brigade, a mountain division and a corps in the North East.

The General Officer has been instrumental in high degree of preparedness and development of infrastructure in the North East which enables quick mobility of troops as well as ability to side step troops when required as per the threat perception. He is well seized of embracing modern technologies and its employment to mitigate the challenges, while improving operational efficiency of the Indian Army.

I am sure the General Officer will do well, wishing him God-speed and good luck for a very professional and satisfying command tenure.

About The Author

Lt Col Manoj K Channan (Retd) is a veteran of the 65 Armored Regiment. He is an analyst who writes on defence & strategy, technologies to include aviation, land and naval systems & homeland security. He is an independent defence business consultant with an M.Sc.- Defense and Strategic Studies, Madras University. Post-Graduate Diploma in Executive Management, MDI Gurgaon, MDP in Human Resource Planning, CDM Secunderabad, MDP in Reinvestment in Human Resources, IIM Lucknow, MDP in Financial Management, NAAA, Shimla.

(Views expressed are the author's own & do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)

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