M A I N   N E W S

J.J. Singh to be Army chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
Lieut-General Joginder Jaswant Singh was today named as the next Chief of the Army Staff and will succeed General N.C. Vij when he retires on January 31, an official announcement here said.

Fiftynine-year-old General J.J. Singh, who is the seniormost officer in the Army after Chief of Army Staff, will also be the first Sikh officer to become the Chief of Army Staff.

Speaking to The Tribune, General J.J. Singh said he considered it a great privilege and "matter of justifiable pride to be appointed as the Chief of Army Staff of the world's second-largest army and one which is considered amongst the highly professional and experienced armies".

Among the first to inform General J.J. Singh of his being designated as the next Chief of Army Staff was Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh and later Chief of Army Staff General N.C. Vij also called him to congratulate.

Incidentally, General J.J. Singh's appointment as the next Chief of Army Staff also clearly points out that the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was not being considered.

This was also clearly pointed out by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the recent meeting of the newly constituted Consultative Committee attached to his ministry. He had said that the issue needed larger political consensus.

Had the government decided to make present Chief of Army Staff Gen N.C. Vij as the CDS now, General J.J. Singh would have lost out on the chance to be the Chief of Army Staff, sources said.

Born in Bhawalpur in Pakistan on September 17, 1945, General J.J. Singh has a rare distinction of having commanded the Chandimandir-based Western Army Command as well as the Army Training Command.

Along with General J.J. Singh, there is a likelihood of another Sikh officer Lieut-General B.S. Takhar donning the mantle of the new Vice-Chief of Army Staff to replace Lieut-General Shantanu Chowdhury, who retires on December 31.

General J.J. Singh, who is presently General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Army Command is an alumnus of National Defence Staff College, Wellington.He has also held prestigious positions, including General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Army Training Command and Additional Director-General of Military Operations (ADGMO).

As ADGMO, General J.J. Singh became Army's public face during the 1999 Kargil conflict. He is a recipient of Param Vishisht Sewa Medal (PVSM), the nation's highest peace-time military award for distinguished services.

In his operational role, the new Army chief commanded Mountain Brigade in Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir, a division in the Western Sector and one of the three strike corps of the Army. He has also been a Defence Attache in Indian Embassy in Algeria.

Though the Sikhs have formed the bulwark of the Indian Army since its inception, this is the first time that a Sikh officer has been named to the top post.

It was for the first time that the race for the top post was between two officers from the Maratha Light Infantry. Besides General J.J. Singh, Lieut-General Hari Prasad, head of Northern Army Command, was in contention for the top post. However, despite being batchmates, Singh is senior.

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