M A I N   N E W S

Gen J.J. Singh takes over as Army chief
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
General Joginder Jaswant Singh today etched his name in history by becoming the first Sikh Army officer to don the mantle of the Chief of Army Staff.

A hero of anti-terrorist operations and a highly-decorated Maratha Light Infantry officer, 59-year-old Gen J.J. Singh is the 22nd Army Chief. He accepted the Chief’s baton at a ceremony at the Army Chief’s office in the South Block from the outgoing Chief Gen N C Vij here.

Having experiences of a variety of first-hand combats in his over 12 years of field duty, Gen J.J. Singh has the distinction of being decorated with Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.

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

Gen J.J. Singh is an alumni of the 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, Gen J.J. Singh became Army’s public face during the 1999 Kargil conflict. He is a recipient of Param Vishist 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 the 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.

He was awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s commendation for receiving wounds in a battle against militants in anti-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir as a Brigade Commander.

`J J’, as he is popularly called in the Army, has also been the brain behind the evolution of a new doctrine for the Indian Army, which was released recently and adopted by the Army.



Near normalcy in J&K, North-East: Gen Vij
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
The outgoing Chief of Army Staff, Gen N.C. Vij, today said he believed that the country had become more secure during his tenure with near normalcy having been achieved in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir and improvement in the situation in the North-East.

Talking to the reporters here before handing over the charge to Gen J.J. Singh, the Chief of Army Staff said, I believe I am leaving the country more secure. The turnout in the local elections in Jammu and Kashmir has shown that the situation in the troubled state is fast returning to normalcy”.

He pointed out that the turnout in the recent civic elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which are being held after more than three decades, had shown that the state had become more secure. Even places considered militant ‘hotbeds’ such as Baramula, Uri and Sopore saw big turnout for casting the votes which was evidence enough that there were greater sentiments and urge among the people for peace.

He also termed the fencing along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan as a major achievement. This he said had resulted in infiltration getting down to a ‘near trickle’ and aslong as the current vigil was maintained, it would be virtually impossible for the militants to cross over. He stressed that the number of terrorists in the valley had dropped from 3,500 to 1600-1700 and that all top leadership of the militants had been decimated.

When asked about the recent violation of ceasefire by Pakistan, he said it was not a major cause of concern as it could have been a manifestation of the increasing frustration among the terrorists.

But he was quick to point out that this was just an assessment and that “It could also have been elements who were trying to help infiltrators or some other reasons we have postulated but cannot reveal”. He praised the Indian troops for not getting provoked by this firing from across the border.

Before handing over the charge to Gen J.J. Singh, the Chief of Army Staff laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate. At the South Block, he was given a guard of honour by the troops from the Dogra Regiment, to which he belonged, and was received by senior officers, including Vice Chief of the Army Staff Lieut-Gen B.S. Thakur and GOC Delhi area Maj-Gen Thomas Mathews.

Gen Vij is the first officer from the Dogras to head the Army. During his tenure, the Army also adopted its first-ever `War Doctrine’ as well as the long-awaited reforms to enhance the prospects of the officer cadre and give a more ‘youthful look’ to officers leading operational formations — brigade and battalion commanders. Commissioned in December, 1962, the 43-year-long career of General Vij has seen him hold vital command and staff appointments, including six tenures in the eastern sector — a unique achievement in the Indian Army.

His numerous achievements have included the planning and execution of “Operation Khukri,” the mission to extricate trapped Indian peacekeeping troops in Sierra Leone and the key responsibility of Director General Military Operations (DGMO) during “Operation Vijay” (Kargil).

Vice Chief of Army Staff during ‘Operation Parakram’ and responsible for the mobilisation ordered on the borders following the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament in Decemeber, 2001, General Vij expressed happiness it had not led to war. “One person who does not regret the fact that war is avoided is the soldier,” he remarked.

Gen J.J. Singh, until now the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Western Command, will formally begin his three-year tenure tomorrow. Lt-Gen S. Pattabhiraman will succeed him as the new GOC-in-C of the Western Command.


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