NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday appointed senior IPS officer Samant Kumar Goel, who brings with him years of expertise in counter-terrorism, as chief of external intelligence agency RAW. Intelligence Bureau too got a new director in Arvind Kumar, currently special director in the agency, who has handled desks like Kashmir and Left-wing extremism over the years. Goel, a 1984 batch IPS officer of Punjab cadre, and Kumar, from the same batch but belonging to Assam-Meghalaya cadre, succeed Anil Dhasmana and Rajiv Jain respectively. The incumbents were on six-month extensions after having completed their fixed two-year terms in December, 2018. Goel and Kumar have a strong intelligence background, with the former having first served in RAW in 2001 and Kumar with IB since 1991. Goel brings to RAW his experience as a young member of Punjab ‘supercop’ K P S Gill’s team that tackled Sikh militancy with an iron hand. As an intelligence officer specialising in counter-terrorism, he has in-depth knowledge about the origins and operations of Pakistan-based terror groups as well as global jihadi outfits like al-Qaida and Islamic State. Goel has served foreign postings in London and Dubai. His anointment as the chief of RAW is being seen as a rebuttal of the allegations levelled by those considered close to former CBI director Alok Verma who had probed allegations of corruption against then CBI No.2 Rakesh Asthana, naming Goel in alleged attempts to influence the investigation. Arvind Kumar, during his long stint in IB, handled various desks including Kashmir and Left-Wing extremism, besides serving in Delhi SIB in the early 2000s. He is highly regarded as an ‘anchor’ by senior IB cadres. His composure even in the face of storms is rated as his top strength. An officer said Kumar has spent much time planning operations and strategic moves in insurgency-hit areas of the north-east. Kumar’s ability to closely examine all facets of the need for and impact of Balakot strikes, as well as investigation into the Pulwama attack that identified local handlers like Sajjad Bhat, killed recently in an encounter with the forces in Anantnag, were the bedrock of IB’s contribution to the entire operation. Kumar’s contributions also include employing new technology to strengthen IB operations. While Goel was to superannuate in May 2020, Kumar was slated to retire in September. Both will now have fixed two-year terms.