But that’s all in the past now. Air Chief Marshal Major has had two healthy, eventful years in office. And unless you seriously nitpick or provide credence to the quiet voices that always seep through the crannies of Vayu Bhawan, during his tenure he made no serious faux pas that would have handed him on a platter to his many detractors (there were and are many).
His recently designated successor, Vice Chief of Air Staff (VCAS) Air Marshal PV Naik is a rock-solid officer, whose name has been secured for the top job for some time now. As SASO Western Air Command and AOC-in-C Central Air Command, Naik has never once given the service or the establishment any reason to doubt that he will, without question, be the rightful next Chief of Air Staff. A no-nonsense fighter pilot with a dry sense of humour, Air Marshal Naik takes office under the next government, whichever way that swings!
As an officer who has commanded a base in the Valley and been on the directing staff at TACDE, Air Marshal Naik is superbly equipped with the huge task riding on his shoulders. For starters, with the impending expansion of the IAF space sub-branch and the creation of a crucial Directorate General of Operations (Air Marshal DC “Tiny” Kumaria is its first head), the IAF will begin to morph structurally and doctrinally in many different ways under the new chief. Urban warfare, the expansion of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations doctrine, and endless other concepts and doctrines will flow into the operational knowledge pool. The doctrinal loop enters one of its most critical phases ever in the next two-three years. Old machines out, new machines in. In five years, if things go the way the air force wants them to, the service will be a completely new setup, virtually unrecognisable from its present structure, such as it is.
One thing’s for sure. As always, there’s a great deal to look forward to.