India names new army chief

General Dalbir Singh
General Dalbir Singh

The Indian government has named Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag, 59, as the country’s next Army Chief. He is to succeed General Bikram Singh who retires on July 31.

In appointing Lt Gen Dalbir Singh, who is the current Vice Chief of Army Staff, the Congress led coalition followed the principle of seniority.

The opposition BJP’s earlier contention that the outgoing government did not have the moral courage to take this decision but the government made the appointment before the announcement of the poll’s results to surprise its major political opponent.

Meantime, former Army Chief and the BJP’s Ghaziabad candidate General VK Singh, has led the demand that the decision be deferred, questioning its “propriety and timing”, which he called “ethically wrong”, with his party holding that the new government had the prior right to appoint the new chief.

General VK Singh, in his last week as Army Chief in May 2012, questioned Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh credentials for having overlooked an intelligence failure while he was in command of the 3 Corps in rebel-ridden Nagaland.

General Bikram Singh, who took over from Generval VK Singh in May 2012, had immediately lifted the ban on Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh, which enabled Suhag to become the Eastern Army Commander in June 2012 and he took over as the Vice Chief of Army Staff on January 1 this year.

VK Singh charged Dalbir Singh with “abdicating responsibility in a most unprofessional and lackadaisical manner” according to agency reports.

Lt Gen Dalbir Singh joined the National Defence Academy in 1970 and was commissioned into the 4/5 Gorkha Rifles in June 1974.

He has served as a company commander in “Op Pawan” in Sri Lanka in 1987, commanded the 53 Infantry Brigade, which was involved in counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley and commanded the 8 Mountain Division in Jammu & Kashmir.

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