Thursday, January 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

General Vij takes charge
No lowering of vigil along LoC
Tribune News Service

Gen Nirmal Chander VijNew Delhi, January 1
The new Chief of Army Staff, Gen Nirmal Chander Vij, said today that there would be no lowering of vigil in Jammu and Kashmir and the troops would simultaneously assist the government in pressing ahead with its initiative for restoring peace and normalcy in the state.

Speaking to the media after formally assuming the office here as the 21st Chief of Army Staff General Vij asserted that there would be no lowering of guard along the Line of Control and that the strategic relocation of troops now underway would be to place troops in “maintainable positions” so that the country is not caught off-guard.

Outlining his priorities for the Army General Vij, a Kargil war decorated hero and Indian Army’s foremost strategist, said emphasis would be on keeping the Army in the highest state of preparedness to consolidate the gains of “Operation Parakarma”, the year-long forward deployment of troops on the Indo-Pak border.

“We will also press ahead with the modernisation drive which has gained momentum, increase the intake of officers, to assist the government in its initiative in Jammu and Kashmir and move ahead with the welfare of soldiers and exservicemen,” General Vij told news persons after inspecting an impressive Guard of Honour by smartly turned out men of the Dogra Regiment of which the chief is a Colonel.

On Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s remarks that India would face an “unconventional” war if its troops crossed the Line of Control (LoC), he said, “No responsible Army chief could make such a statement”.

Disagreeing with assertions that the Army’s role was becoming marginalised as the IAF and the Navy took on more strategic role, he said the byword in the present warfare scene was of “total synergy”.

Armies and even nations worldwide were moving towards more tri-service integration, he said, adding that in the present and future context all three services had a specific role to play.

The Army chief is a recipient of Param Vashisht Seva Medal, Uttam Yudh Seva Medal and Ati Vashisht Seva Medal.

He said from April 1 the Army would launch work on the new scheme announced by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to build 200,000 dwelling units for married officers and jawans at a cost of Rs 16,000 crore. The General said the construction work would be completed in the next three to four years.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy. General Vij has had a rich and varied command and staff experience in his almost 40 years in the Army. After commanding an anti-insurgency brigade in Assam and a division in the desert. He has the unique distinction of having commanded two separate corps for three years, the first General after late General Sunderji to have done so.

He commanded a strike corps in the desert and then a counter insurgency corps in Nagaland and it was during his command that under intense pressure of security forces operations a major group of ULFA had surrendered.

Besides insurgency, his other field of speciality is military operations and during the Kargil conflict he held the key appointment of Director-General of Military Operations at the Army Headquarters here.

As Army Commander of the Southern Command as troop from his formation won a great acclaim in the earthquake relief operations in Gujarat. Before his elevation to Army chief, he held the post of the Vice-Chief of Army Staff.

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