Nepal | October 23, 2019

Gen Thapa to assume charge as CoAS today

Jagdishor Panday

Thapa’s role will be different from previous army chiefs

Kathmandu, September 8

General Purna Chandra Thapa will assume the duty of Chief of Army Staff of the Nepali Army from tomorrow.

He became the acting chief of army staff of the Nepali Army one month ago when the incumbent CoAS Rajendra Chhetri went on leave before retirement.

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Nepali Army, will officially put insignia of CoAS on Thapa at the Office of President in ShitalNiwas amid a special function tomorrow.

The government had promoted Thapa from lieutenant general to acting CoAS a month ago. Thapa will lead over 96,000-strong army, the biggest security force of the country,   for three years.

Security analyst Geja Sharma Wagle said Thapa had both challenges and opportunities in the days ahead.   “With the political transition almost over, the  NA is on a new phase of action now that requires CoAS to make the country’s largest security force more professional,” he added.

He said Thapa’s role will be different from previous army chiefs who had to deal more with the issues of army integration and political settlement, particularly security aspects of three tiers of elections,” said Wagle.

He said the CoAS should not focus on work that his predecessors did in the past. “It is time for professionalism in the army. It needs to enhance its skills and carry out rescue and development work as asked by the government,” he added.

Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies and security expert Nishchal Nath Pandey said Nepali Army had a glorious history and was respected not only within but also outside the country. “It needs to maintain its image and never falter from its obligation to the nation,” he said, adding, the public wanted the army to engage itself more in development activities and construction work. “And as the NA does this work, it needs to balance its constitutional role,” he added.

Retired major general and security expert Binoj Basnyat said Thapa’s duty was to lead and transform the NA into a professional army. “The NA has to be restructured in a way that could help it overcome all security challenges that the country may face in the days ahead,” he said, adding, streamlining professional duties, career planning and categorising through fighting force were essential in the army.

He further said the modernisation and professionalisation of the soldiers were also needed.  The NA bade farewell to incumbent CoAS Rajendra Chhetri on Thursday at the army headquarters.

A version of this article appears in print on September 09, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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