Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj to take over as next Army vice chief in October

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New Delhi, Sep 1 (ANI) Lt. Gen. P C Bhardwaj, who is currently heading the Indian Army's Northern Command, will be the next Vice Chief of Army Staff, bypassing the senior most three-star officer Lt. Gen. V K Singh.

Lt. Gen. 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.

The Indian Army's new promotion policy earmarks officers of the rank of Major General and Lieutenant General to command or administrative streams.

Under the policy, staff stream officers will perform only administrative tasks, while command stream officers will lead troops in field formations.

Officers in the respective streams would not be able to change streams while moving up the career ladder.

Also, the promoted officers would be allotted a stream on a pro-rata basis keeping in view the availability of staff and command posts at any given point of time.

The new policy has been formulated on the basis of recommendations made by the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee (AVSC).

The Indian Army has created 75 additional Major General posts and 20 Lieutenant General posts as per the recommendations of the committee in December last year.

The policy was first implemented for 15 Major Generals, who were promoted to Lieutenant General rank in January this year.

The new policy, which was adopted by the Army was first mooted in 1980 by former army chief General K Sundarji.

Before his latest appointment, Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj had been the chief of the Udhampur-based Northern Command since March of this year.

He succeeded Lt. Gen. H.S. Panag. Prior that he was commanding the Leh-based 14 Corps of the Indian Army that looks after the frontiers with China, Kashmir and also guards the Siachen glacier, the highest battlefield in the world.

Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj has vast experience in the terror-hit Jammu and Kashmir having been the Brigadier General Staff at Nagrota, the headquarters of 16 Corps in 2000-01, when militancy was at its peak and infiltration at its highest level.

He has also commanded the Delta Force, a counter insurgency force in Doda.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Indian Military Academy and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Lt. Gen.Bhardwaj was commissioned into the first battalion of the Parachute Regiment in June 1970.

He has also received training at Special Forces School, Fort Bragg.

A recipient of Vir Chakra in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Lt. Gen.Bhardwaj has commanded the elite Parachute Brigade and was the defence attache in Myanmar from 1994 to 1997. (ANI)

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