The Indian Army’s 16 Bihar regiment, which saw action in the brutal Galwan Valley clash on June 15, has a new Commanding Officer.
Twelve men from the unit, including then Commanding Officer Colonel B Santosh Babu, were killed in action two weeks ago in an incident that has become the centrepiece of the ongoing India-China standoff in Ladakh.
India Today can confirm that 16 Bihar’s new Commanding Officer has ‘taken strength’, military parlance for assuming office. The officer, who had been cleared for a promotion to the Colonel rank at the time of the incident, was supposed to take over command of a different battalion. After the events of June 15, the Army decided that command of the 16 Bihar must pass to an officer from the unit.
Colonel B Santosh Babu of the Army’s 16 Bihar unit was killed in action in a violent clash with Chinese troops in Ladakh.
The intention would have been to heal, galvanise and leave zero gaps in preparedness in the restive river valley.
INJURED SOLDIERS RETURN TO FRONTLINE
India Today can also confirm that several men from the unit injured in the June 15 incident have since reported back to the frontline from the 153 General Hospital in Leh and a field hospital in Thangtse.
The new Commanding Officer, who India Today will refrain from identifying owing to sensitivities on the ground, is said to have rallied his forces admirably, and infused an unwavering commitment to remaining deployed in every possible way.
In the eyes of troops on ground, and the leadership, the unit couldn’t have asked for a more capable successor to the beloved and very well-regarded Colonel Babu.
A senior officer familiar with developments said, “When you have an incident like the Galwan incident, when blood has flowed after 45 years between the two sides, the situation becomes difficult to digest. When a unit loses its Commanding Officer, it is like losing a parent. It is enormously important for the new officer to pull his men together, inspire them and establish the Bihar Regiment’s motto ‘Karam Hi Dharam’. There can be no better than a unit officer to step up to the mantle.”
Of the 20 men killed in action across the Line of Actual Control on Chinese turf on June 15, 12 were from 16 Bihar (including the CO), one from 12 Bihar, three men from artillery regiments and one from a mountain signals unit.