Government’s big dilemma: who should be next Navy Chief
New Delhi – The government is faced with a big dilemma on who to pick as successor to Admiral DK Joshi who resigned as Navy Chief last evening taking “moral responsibility” for a series of accidents. (Read more)
The dilemma is acute because Vice Admiral Robin K Dhowan, who has been appointed as acting Naval Chief, is not the seniormost Naval officer after Admiral Joshi’s resignation. Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, currently the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C), Western Naval Command, based in Mumbai, is senior to Vice Admiral Dhowan.
In normal course, Vice Admiral Sinha would have taken over as the next Chief, but the majority of incidents and accidents that have plagued the Navy in the past seven or eight months, have happened in the Western Naval Command that he heads and it would be difficult for the government to overlook the fact, especially since Admiral Joshi has resigned citing those mishaps. (Indian Navy’s 10 mishaps in last seven months)
Robin_Dhowan_acting_navy_chief_360x270.jpgThe government could appoint Vice Admiral Dhowan the next chief, though there is a possible technical problem – he hasn’t commanded an operational command, a prerequisite for a Navy Chief in normal circumstances. Of course the present circumstances are anything but normal. Vice Admiral Dhowan is set to retire on May 31 this year, unless he is made the next chief.
The third in line is the FOC-in-C, Eastern Naval Command, Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, who according to many, may emerge as the first choice. But if he gets the nod as the next Navy chief than both Vice Admiral Sinha and Vice Admiral Dhowan will be superceded, setting up an awkward situation. Vice Admiral Sinha is due to retire in August this year.
If Admiral Joshi had not resigned 15 months ahead of the end of his normal tenure, then Vice Admiral Satish Soni, currently FOC-in-C, Southern Naval Command, headquartered in Cochin, would have become the Navy Chief in July 2015. He is currently No 4 in seniority.
If the government decides to choose Vice Admiral Soni, then it faces the danger of the Navy’s three most senior officers – Vice Admiral Sinha, Vice Admiral Dhowan and Vice Admiral Chopra – quitting instead of working under a junior officer.
All eyes are now on Defence Minister AK Antony and the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), who will take the decision.