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December 31, 2019 11:38 pm

General Naravane Takes Over As New Army Chief

General MM Naravane takes over as 28th Indian Army Chief. Photo: Twitter/@SpokespersonMoD

NEW DELHI - In a stern warning to Pakistan, Army chief Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane on Tuesday said India reserves the right to preemptively strike at sources of terror threat if the neighbouring country does not stop state-sponsored terrorism.

Hours after taking charge of the 1.3 million strong Army, Gen Naravane said a strategy of "resolute punitive response" has been evolved to punish cross-border terrorism.

He also said the Pakistan Army's all out efforts to deflect attention from state-sponsored terrorism has been a total failure and that the situation in Kashmir has improved significantly after the abrogation of Article 370.

"The Pakistan Army's proxy war design received setback due to elimination of militants and decimation of militant networks (by India)," he said.

Asked how he will deal with Pakistan backed militancy, he said, "Multiple options across the spectrum of conflict are on the table to respond to any act of terror sponsored or abetted by Pakistan."

On security challenges along the 3,500 km border with China, Gen Naravane said the focus has shifted from the Western border to the Northern border as part of re-balancing priorities.

"We will continue to improve capability building along the Northern border so we are prepared when the need arises," he said.

Referring to the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff, he said it will greatly change the way the defence establishment operates and will bring about significant reforms in the entire military system.

His main focus as Army chief will be to make the Army ready to face any threat at any time, the general said.

According to him, the bottomline for reform in the Army will be to increase efficiency and operational readiness.

Army ready to face any border challenge with Pak, China: Gen Rawat

The Army is "better prepared" to face any challenge that may come up at India's borders with Pakistan and China, Gen Bipin Rawat said on Tuesday, noting that the Army's restructuring and modernisation were among his biggest achievements during his tenure as the Army chief.

Gen Rawat had assumed charge as the 27th Chief of Army Staff on December 31, 2016, and retired from the post on Tuesday after a distinguished career. On Monday, he was appointed India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

During an interaction with reporters after receiving a ceremonial farewell, Gen Rawat was asked if the troops are better prepared and equipped to face challenges at the borders with Pakistan and China, with him at the helm of the Army for three years, and he said, "Better prepared... I would say, yes".

He was given a Guard of Honour in the forecourt of the South Block at the Raisina Hill complex here.

Before becoming Army chief, he handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China and in the northeast.

Responding to another question on what he counted as the biggest achievement during his tenure as the Army chief, Gen Rawat said, "My focus was on the Army's restructuring, weapon system modernisation and non-contact warfare. And, I endeavoured to do the best."

Some of the major artillery gun systems, including the M777 American Ultra Light Howitzers and the K-9 Vajra, and the Sig Sauer assault rifles were inducted into the force in his tenure.

Gen Rawat, an alumnus of St Edward School in Shimla and the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, Pune, was commissioned into the 11th Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army in December 1978 from the IMA Dehradun, where he was awarded the 'Sword of Honour'.

He has a vast experience in operations across a wide spectrum of conflict and terrain profiles. Rawat commanded an Infantry battalion along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Eastern Sector, an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley, and a Corps in the northeast.

He had also commanded a multinational brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).

His appointment to the newly-created post of CDS had come a day before his retirement following a three-year tenure as the Army chief during which he initiated a series of reforms in the 1.3 million-strong force besides following a policy of "hot pursuit" in dealing with cross border militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Asked if any work that he began is left unfinished, Gen Rawat said, "Many works remain unfinished. Work begins but next chiefs will have the responsibilities to finish that work."

On Tuesday, Gen Manoj Mukund Naravane took over as the 28th Chief of Army Staff, succeeding Gen Rawat, who handed over the ceremonial baton to him.

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