After General Bipin Rawat’s death in a surprising helicopter accident this month, the Government of India has announced General Manoj Mukund Naravane as his interim successor.

General Manoj Mukund Navarane

General Naravane will take office as the chairperson of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. This position was the senior most armed forces position in India, prior to the creation of the Chief of Defense Staff position two years ago.

Speaking to India Today, officials confirmed that this would be a stopgap measure until a proper CDS is appointed. “It is a procedural step that in the absence of a CDS, the senior-most chief takes over as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee,” said an official.

In the aftermath of the tragic event, General Naravane has a fair bit of work to get done with. Soon after taking up responsibilities, the Indian Army Additional Directorate General of Public Information posted an update from his desk:

As a potential CDS candidate himself, let’s take a closer look at Gen. Navarane’s life.


Career and Honors

General Manoj Mukund Navarane

Born to a Marathi Brahmin family, General Manoj Mukund Naravane completed his early schooling at Jnana Prabodhini Prashala, Pune. He then carried out the standard training at National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy.

In 1980, Gen. Naravane was commissioned into the 7th Battalion, Sikh Light Infantry Regiment. He eventually took command of the 2nd Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles, serving in counterinsurgency operations within Jammu and Kashmir, much like his predecessor Gen. Rawat.

During the late 1980s, Gen. Navarane also served as a member of the Indian Peace Keeping Force during Sri Lanka’s ‘Operation Pawan’. Bolstering Sri Lanka’s overwhelmed forces, the Indian Army carried out a three-week battle for the city of Jaffna – eventually defeating the entrenched LTTE or Tamil Tigers forces.

Apart from a wide range of staff assignments, Gen. Navarane also has experience as a military academic. He has served as a Directing Staff at the Higher Command Wing of Army War College, Mhow – as well as two tenures at the Ministry of Defence, New Delhi. Earlier in his career, he went on to complete a Masters in Defense Studies from the University of Madras. He also pursued and obtained a M.Phil in Defense and Management from Ahilya Vishwavidhyalaya, Indore.

After achieving the rank of Lieutenant General, he commanded Ambala’s Kharga Strike Corps and served as the General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area.

As Delhi’s GOC, he also had the privilege of leading 2017’s Republic Day Parade:

Across his career, General Navarane has received several awards, such as:

  • The Param Vishisht Seva Medal (2019)
  • Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (2017)
  • Vishisht Seva Medal (2015)
  • The COAS Commendation Card

As the Sikh Light Infantry Colonel, he also belongs to a well-respected regiment – being the 3rd officer from its ranks to reach the highest Indian Army position.


General Naravane’s Current Duties

General Manoj Mukund Navarane

In a nutshell, General Naravane will handle most CDS duties until the government convenes on a successor.

This includes joint planning and integration oversight across the all military wings, resource management and cross-department command. All tri-service administrative issues, as well as training, comes under this general banner.

General Naravane had said at an event in 2020 that the next step in military reforms after the “momentous” step of appointing the CDS will be to set up integrated theatre commands and the process to set up the theatre commands needed to be “deliberate, thoughtful and well-considered, and its fruition will take several years.”

(Images Sources: Twitter, Additional Directorate General of Public Information, IHQ of MoD (Army), Press Information Bureau, Government of India)