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SOURCE: THE PRINT

Amid the continued tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, Lieutenant General P.G.K. Menon will take over as the new commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps, also known as the Fire and Fury Corps, Wednesday.

He will replace Lt. Gen. Harinder Singh, who completed his one-year tenure as the corps commander, and will take over as the Commandant of the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun.

Son of Subedar S.K. Menon (Retd), Lt Gen. Menon has been in Leh since the beginning of the month and also took part in the military talks held between India and China Monday.

He had also been a part of the 21 September meeting, which was the first-ever joint military and diplomatic-level meeting between India and China.

The Fire and Fury Corps has the dual task of dealing with China in Ladakh and also Pakistan in the Drass-Kargil-Batalik and the Siachen sector.

Prior experience of dealing with China
A senior Army officer told ThePrint that Lt Gen. Menon did not come with the “1962 war mental block” because he was born in 1964.

Lt. Gen. Menon was commissioned in the 17th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment and is also the colonel commandant of the Sikh Regiment.

A big factor that works in his favour is that he has prior experience of dealing with China in the 14 Corps and in the Eastern Command.

In 2008, he was the Colonel GS (General Staff) in the 3 Division of the Army that looks after the LAC in Ladakh, and is currently embroiled in the standoff with China.

He returned to the 14 Corps in 2014 after this tenure as the Brigadier General Staff in charge of operations.

As a major general, the officer commanded the 71 Division in Eastern Tawang in the Eastern Command.

Sources noted that the officer has been actively involved in the deliberations on the situation in Ladakh and the Army’s response to China.

In the Army circles, Lt. Gen. Menon is seen as an operations-oriented person with a thinking cap.

“The officer has been born into the Army as the son of a Subedar. He has now risen to the top and is a proud moment for us as the Army,” said the senior Army officer quoted above.

He added that Lt. Gen. Menon’s experience of dealing with China in the past will help him make decisions faster and smoothly.

India-China positioned in forward areas for first time
Known for carrying along his junior officers in decision-making, Lt. Gen. Menon takes command of the 14 Corps at a critical time when the winters are settling in and troops from both India and China will be positioned in the forward areas, for the first time since the 1962 War.

India and China have never deployed troops at locations that are this far forward along the LAC in winter, when the temperature drops to minus 30 degrees Celsius, along with very strong winds.

As reported by ThePrint earlier, the Army is already working out its summer deployment plans for Ladakh as the current standoff is likely to continue.

With higher deployment, some vantage points could get physical posts instead of being left open to possible incursion by China.

Sources said temperatures have already started dropping down to -20 degrees Celsius at several locations in Eastern Ladakh.