Pranab Kumar Bharali - first North Easterner to head the Army Aviation Corps

Pranab Kumar Bharali
Lt Gen Pranab Kumar Bharali has been appointed as the first Director General of Army Aviation in 2015. This also makes him the first ever Assamese to take on this role. Till 2015, the Army Aviation Corps officers could hold rank only up to Major General. This is the first time Army promoted an officer from Army Aviation Corps to this post. Bharali has been the head of Army Aviation Corps from July, 2009.

Son of late Uma Kanta Bharali, a police officer, Bharali did his initial schooling from various schools in Assam till he joined Sainik School Goalpara. He was selected for National Defence Academy in 1973. After graduating, he was commissioned as an officer in the Army in June 1977. Bharali stood first in various Army courses of instructions and has earned the coveted ‘Silver Gun’, ‘Commando Dagger’ and ‘Silver Cheetah’ trophies in such courses, which is a rare achievement.

He joined the Army Aviation Corps as an Army helicopter pilot in 1982. Later he became a flying instructor in the Army and rose successfully in the career in Army Aviation Corps. He has over 5000 flying hours in all types of terrains in India including super high altitudes of Siachin Glacier to Tawang to salt plains of Kutch to plains of Punjab. He commanded a helicopter unit of the Army in Missamari near Tezpur in 2000-2001.

He held the appointment of General Staff Officer (Operations) of a Counter Insurgency Force Headquarter, Colonel Administration of a Division Headquarter and Brigadier Aviation in a Command Headquarter in Jammu and Kashmir before assuming the appointment of Head of Army Aviation Corps in the capacity as the Additional Director General in Army Headquarters as a Major General in July 2009 being the senior most officer of Army Aviation Corps. Bharali became the first person from North East India to be promoted to the rank of Major General in the fighting arms of the Army. Later he became the first Assamese to be promoted to Lieutenant General rank.

On January 26, 2012, Bharali was awarded the coveted “Vishisht Seva Medal” (VSM) for his contributions as the head of Army Aviation Corps, on the occasion of Republic Day.