Air Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, presently serving as Vice Chief of the Air Staff, will take over as the Chief of the Indian Air Force next week. And the new Air Chief would hardly have time to breathe easy because his ‘to do’ list is a lengthy one.
The Narendra Modi government’s move to appoint him as the Vice Chief in July was critical — he got the time to understand the crucial juncture at which the IAF currently stands. Before this, he had a ringside view.
Ideally, rather than announcing appointments of Chief of Services just days before the incumbent retires, the government should give the name at least a month in advance. This helps the successor gather their thoughts, prioritise and be part of the decision-making even if it is on an informal basis.
Air Marshal Chaudhari is lucky to have served in crucial positions in the Air Headquarters, including as the Deputy Chief in charge of planning and procurement. He was also the Western Air Commander and Senior Air Staff Officer in the Eastern Air Command.
But being in the hot seat means he would no longer be an observer and will have to take decisions crucial to the IAF, which is facing huge modernisation challenges.
Thankfully for him, the incumbent ACM R.K.S. Bhadauria has initiated a lot of work and closed several emergency procurement contracts that will help the force in both short and long term, especially in the area of missiles and communication.