Northern Commander Lt Gen P C Bhardwaj has been named the next Vice Chief of Army,bypassing seniormost three-star officer Lt Gen V K Singh. Bhardwaj will assume office on October 1 when the incumbent Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj retires.
The appointment of Lt Gen Bhardwaj comes after Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor had recommended to the Defence Ministry that an officer with around two years of service left with him should take over the office so that he can get a grip of things and continue for a longer tenure.
Till now,the senior-most Lieutenant General used to take over as the Vice Chief,who would either serve in the office for around six to eight months or go on to take over the Army Chief later. Kapoor’s recommendations were seen by many as an attempt to overlook Lt Gen Singh for appointment as the next Army Chief but Defence Minister A K Antony had said “the mere fact that somebody is a Vice Chief,does not mean he is going to be the next chief”,thus doing away with the apprehensions. The Vice Chief is the Principal Staff Officer (PSO) of the Army Chief and looks after the procurement of hardware for all the arms and services. He also takes care of the personnel related issues in the Army.
Lt Gen Bhardwaj is from the elite 1 Para (Special Forces) battalion of the Parachute Regiment unit and has participated in the Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka. He has held various important positions including the command of Delhi Area and the Leh-based 14 Corps before he moved to the Udhampur-based Northern Command.