Lt General Dalbir Singh has been designated the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) with the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) clearing his name for the top post Tuesday. The officer, who is currently the Vice Chief of Army Staff, will take over the reins of the Army on July 31 after General Bikram Singh retires.
A soft-spoken officer known for his connect with troops and a fitness level that makes it difficult for even young officers to keep up during his many visits to remote border outposts, he will lead the Army for two years and five months.
The ACC clearance has laid to rest the controversy over the appointment that had flared up after the BJP raised an objection and approached the Election Commission to stall the process. The BJP had contended that the UPA government was on its last leg and should therefore not go ahead with the important appointment.
However, the Election Commission rejected the complaint and on Monday gave a formal go ahead to the government to complete the process.
Going by the time tested principle of seniority, the Defence Ministry recommended the name of Lt Gen Dalbir Singh to the ACC that is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
A third generation soldier, Lt Gen Dalbir Singh will be the first Jat Army Chief and comes from a village near Jhajjar that is known for its contribution of soldiers to the armed forces. The son of a person below officer rank (PBOR), 59-year-old Singh is a stickler for fitness and still regularly runs marathons and is a keen sportsman.
An alumnus of Sainik School Chittorgarh, he was commissioned into the legendary 4/5 Gorkha (Frontier Force) battalion in June 1974. The officer holds masters degrees in management studies and strategic studies and has a career spanning four decades in the Army. Besides several tenures in counter insurgency areas, he was a company commander in ‘Operation Pawan’ in Sri Lanka and has raised and commanded a Rashtriya Rifles battalion. The officer has commanded a mountain division in Jammu and Kashmir and prior to taking over as the Vice Chief, was the Eastern Army commander.