With 4 Top Officers in Line, UPA Government in a Fix on Choice of Next Navy Chief
With at least four top officers qualified to be the next Navy chief, the beleaguered UPA government is really spoilt for choice following the unprecedented resignation by Admiral D K Joshi on Wednesday.
The process of selecting the next chief was kick-started on Thursday, Defence Ministry sources said here. But the government would take some time to get a fix on its choice as Joshi’s successor.
Joshi had, in his resignation letter, prepared by himself and submitted around noon on Wednesday when he met Defence Minister A K Antony, asked for the government to name vice chief Vice Admiral R K Dhowan to take over his duties in the interim, thereby leading his deputy tight into the hot race for the top job.
But Dhowan, a Navigation and Direction specialist, is only the second senior most officer in the Navy at present after Joshi. Senior-most now is the Western Naval Commander Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, under whose charge about 10 of the 12 naval accidents of the last six months have occurred. Dhowan’s only disadvantage would be his “lack of command experience.”
In layman terms, it means the Navy vice chief has never been a Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of any of the three Naval Commands at Mumbai, Visakhapatnam or Kochi.
His previous postings include the Deputy Chief at the Naval headquarters in Delhi, Chief of Staff at the Eastern Naval Command and earlier the Eastern Fleet Commander. He has just about three months of service left, as he would in the normal course retire on May 31 this year.
Sinha, either if he quits on his own owning up moral responsibility or is sacked for the lapses, could be the automatic choice for the next Navy chief if the seniority principle is strictly followed.
A naval aviator, Sinha had been Chief of Integrated Defence Staff headquarters in Delhi and is also a batch mate of Joshi.