A grand Defence Investiture Ceremony was held at the premises of Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi on 19 March 2019. At this ceremony, many distinguished officers of the Tri-services were presented with medals for their service in the armed forces. Lieutenant General Mahendra Vikram Singh, who was formerly an Air Vice Marshal in the Indian Airforce was presented the Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM) for his successful tenure in the armed forces. AVSM is presented to all ranks of Indian Armed Forces in order to recognize their “distinguished service of an exceptional order”. The awardee has the full right to use the “AVSM” as post-nominal letters as we see in most of the cases. Lt General Mahendra Vikram Singh was commissioned in 1983 in Indian Airforce and has been appointed the Commandant of Command hospital Airforce, Bangalore where he provided his exceptional services. He was then given the charge of Training command in Bangalore in March 2018. He made the news because of switching between the services and due to holding two of the second highest ranks of Indian Army and Indian Airforce respectively.
The confusion peddled by many who were misinformed:
What caught the attention of many defence enthusiasts and aspirants was the former rank and service of Lt General Mahendra Vikram Singh who was awarded AVSM in the ceremony. Many of the aspirants were confused and thought it was a mistake in typing while some of them claimed it as a case of mistaken identity. The comment section of the Instagram post was filled with many uninformed comments suspecting the credibility of the admin of the Instagram page of official Indian Airforce. Clearly, they weren’t properly aware of such a case of changing the services in between and didn’t possess the information if such a thing can happen in the armed forces. The change in the services have been a norm, yet happen on rare occasions
Let’s have a look at the rules regarding the change in services in between the services, if possible in any scenario.
The official existing rules for switching between the Indian Army and Indian Airforce and vice versa:
Now, according to the currently existing rules of the armed forces of India, an individual belonging to the Medical or the dental branch can change the services given if any kind of vacancy or urgent requirement arises in the chosen service. Officers from the Armed Forces Medical Services pool have the advantage to change the services in between Indian Army, Indian Airforce and Indian Navy in any kind of given order. Certain conditions arrive where an officer or any other ranks go on deputations or on temporary duty to other services and sometimes they act as a liaison between the services as per the situational demand.
Let’s look for another example of this Lady officer:
The second and earlier prominent example of such a case is Lt. General Punita Arora of the Army Medical Corps (AMC) who graduated from AFMC, Pune. She did her masters in Gynaecology and Obstetrics from her alma mater only. During her career span of over 40 years, she held various distinguished posts in the field operational areas as well and after taking the command of AFMC, Pune in 2004 she became the first women officer in Indian armed officer forces to command a medical college. She moved from Indian Army to Indian Navy as the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) have a common pool from where an individual can get a transition from one service to another which completely depends upon the requirement factor. She is the first woman in India to reach the second highest rank in both the Indian Army and Indian Navy which is Lieutenant General and Vice Admiral respectively.
The Intent and reasoning behind such a switch between services:
The basic reasoning behind such perks allotted to the AFMS pool is that because the officers in different services are trained specifically for their prescribed role such as flying, technical, administrative or combat. A medical officer won’t have to change much in his work profile and can be consistent in his role.
I guess this must be clear in the mind of many aspirants who were dwindling about the above case and were confused.