Lt-Gen A K Choudhary, the former Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), assumed the top operational office of the Army on January 9, 2012, and barely a week later got embroiled in one of the lowest points in civil-military relations when a spooked government asked him to explain the movement of two Army units near the national capital on a day the then Army chief Gen V K Singh had moved court on his date-of-birth controversy. Now in Patna days after his retirement, he breaks his silence on the troop movements, the level of distrust between the government and the Army and the “corrective steps” taken.
On his selection as the DGMO:
A DGMO is not selected by the (Army) chief based on his personal friendship or relationships. It is based purely on professional grounds and the officer is expected to work 24 hours a day and give the correct professional advice. I was pained by the perception some had that as the DGMO I was there being close to some A, B or C. It was for purely professional reasons.
On how much the DGMO should be aware of such troop movements:
First of all, I had joined on January 9, 2012, as the DGMO. The training movement of the troops is a prerogative of the commanders only. They need not and they do not keep the MO (Military Operations directorate) in the loop. It’s not required. They do it when there is an operation close to the border, where we have to inform the other nation. There we get an approval for them. Officially, for any other kind of movement , there is no intimation required to be given to the DGMO.
On the troop movement that caused panic in the government on January 15-16, 2012:
On the evening of January 15, I got a call at about 11-11.30 pm from one of the senior officers in charge of a formation looking after Delhi Area, inquiring about some troop movements. He must have been asked by some intelligence fellows. I told him I did not know, and said let me find out. I then asked (Lt-Gen Ashok Singh), the Corps Commander (1 Corps) concerned (mechanised columns of the Hisar-based armoured unit), who said there was nothing and that they were just doing an exercise that had been discussed in the past. Maybe he had discussed this with the chief and other senior officers. From what I gathered, they were checking out the time it takes to move these troops. (Ashok Singh now heads the southern command.)
On why the troops were moving towards Delhi:
I asked why they had come this close. He said continued…