NEW DELHI: 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 terrorism 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.