India’s nuclear command in new hands

New Delhi, August 19:

Air Marshal Avinash Deodatta Joshi, a highly decorated fighter pilot, was today named the next chief of India’s Strategic Forces Command, the unit that is responsible for the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Joshi will become commander-in-chief of the formation on August 22, replacing Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani, who was yesterday named the next vice chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Joshi was commissioned in the IAF in June 1967 as a fighter pilot and has flown over 3,800 hours on fighter aircraft. A flying instructor, he took active part in the 1971 war with Pakistan and was awarded a mention-in-despatches. Joshi is a graduate of the Army War College at Mhow, National Defence College and National Security Course at Galillee College in Israel. The Strategic Forces Command was set up in January 2003, nearly five years after India conducted its nuclear tests. It is also responsible for the delivery systems like the Agni ballistic missiles.