NEW DELHI: There is uncertainty in the defence ministry over several top-level appointments, with orders still awaited on key posts to be vacated by the end of this month. The Vice-Chief of Army Staff, the head of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Master General of Ordnance (MGO) are yet to be announced as the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has still not taken a call on the proposed names.

Army Vice-Chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand is retiring by the end of this month. The officer was widely expected to be replaced by Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Devraj Anbu, but with just a week to go, official orders have not been issued yet.

Former Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh — the Army’s most visible face during the two surgical strikes in Myanmar a n d Pakistan -occupied Kashmir — is expected to move to Udhampur to lead the critical Northern Command that is engaged in both the hinterland and on the borders. While the norm is to announce these appointments in advance to enable smooth handing and taking over of the command, orders are still awaited at the Army HQ. Also in question is whether Lt Gen Mukund Naravane , who heads the training command at Shimla, will be moved to an operational command. The officer is next in line for the post of Army chief after Gen Bipin Rawat retires next year.

The post of the Master General of Ordnance (MGO), who is in charge of major procurement including ammunition, clothing and special equipment for soldiers, has also been vacant since early May. While Major General BV Rao is officiating as MGO, a replacement is not expected till September, when the next officer chosen for the post is relieved of a previous charge.

A tussle is also on in DRDO, with current chief Selvin Christopher set to retire by May-end. He is already on a year’s extension beyond the prescribed age and is believed to be gunning for another extension. While a final decision on it is yet to be taken, two scientists — G Satheesh Reddy, scientific advisor to the defence minister; and Sudhir Mishra, head of BrahMos Aerospace — are in the fray to replace Selvin Christopher. 

As the deadline approaches, it seems, the government is still negotiating, with key stakeholders yet to reach an understanding on some of the critical proposals.