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Admiral Arun Prakash PVSM, AVSM, VrC, VSM, ADC (born October 1944) is a retired Four-Star Admiral who served as the Chief of the Naval Staff of the Indian Navy and Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee from 31 July 2004 to 31 October 2006. He is one of India’s most decorated naval officers.
Adm. Prakash grew up in the Kashmir Valley, where his father rose to be a District Commissioner of Leh.
Arun Prakash graduated from the Indian Air Force Test Pilots School in 1976, the Defence Services Staff College in 1979, and the U.S. Naval War College in 1990.
Joining the Indian Navy, Prakash specialized in naval aviation, qualifying as a pilot in the Sea Hawk jet fighter, flying from the deck of the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in 1968. His assignments in naval aviation included flying Islander aircraft with Indian Navy Air Squadron 550, Vampire and Kiran aircraft with Indian Navy Air Squadron 551, and Seahawk and Sea Harrier aircraft with Indian Navy Air Squadron 300. In the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, Lieutenant Prakash flew Hawker Hunter aircraft for the 20th Squadron Lightnings. For his gallantry in air action over West Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir, he received the Vir Chakra.
In 1976, he flew the Super Constellation for maritime air reconnaissance with Indian Navy Air Squadron 312. In 1983, while in command of Indian Navy Air Squadron 300, he supervised the training of Indian Navy crew members in the United Kingdom for the Sea Harrier and ferried the newly acquired aircraft back to India. He commanded two Air Squadrons and the naval air station INS Hansa. In his aviation assignments, he logged more than 2,500 hours in the air in single and multi-engined, shore-based and carrier-based aircraft.
As a junior officer, he served afloat in the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, INS Kirpan, and INS Delhi. He later commanded the missile boat INS Chatak, the training frigate INS Beas, the antisubmarine warfare frigate INS Vindhyagiri, and the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.
Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1993, he served as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air) and Assistant Chief of Personnel. As a Vice Admiral, he was Commandant of the National Defence Academy in 1997-1999, and Chief of Naval Personnel at Naval Headquarters in 1999-2001. In October 2001, he became the first Commander-in-Chief of the newly established Andaman and Nicobar Command. Then, on 31 December 2002, he became Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Western Naval Command. Following this assignment, he became Vice Chief of Naval Staff for a brief period before being promoted to Admiral and becoming the 20th Chief of Naval Staff on 31 July 2004.
Prakash retired as Chief of Naval Staff in October 2006. While serving as Chief of Naval Staff, Prakash played an important role in renewing the Indian Navy’s relationships with the United States Navy and in developing a vision of India’s maritime strategy.