NATIONAL

Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj is new Vice-Chief of Army

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General P. K. Bhardwaj will be the new Vice-Chief of Army Staff. He will be in the job ahead of Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, the seniormost three-star Army Commander currently heading the Eastern Command.

In two other changes, Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, currently General-Officer Commanding (GoC), Army Training Command, will replace Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj while Lt. Gen. Arvinder Singh Lamba, currently Chief of Staff, Army Training Command, will be elevated as the GoC there.

Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj will assume charge on October 1 when the incumbent Lt. Gen. Noble Thamburaj retires. The other two changes would also be effective from the same day, Army sources said.

The appointment of Lt. Gen. Bhardwaj comes in the backdrop of a recommendation by the Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, that the Vice-Chief should be a person who would have around two years of service allowing the person to get the grasp and take a grip on the tasks allotted to the office.

Following the recommendation, there were reports interpreting the move was to overlook Lt. Gen. Singh for the post of the Chief after Gen. Kapoor retires early next year. Army sources said the suggestion was made to allow the Vice-Chief a longer tenure instead of having one who stays on the job for a some six or eight months before moving out.

The Vice-Chief is also the Prinicipal Staff Officer to the Army Chief tasked to handle matters relating to personnel as also procurement of hardware for the arms and services.

Last month, Defence Minister A.K. Antony sought to dismiss any controversy over the recommendation stating that since the Vice-Chief was also the Principal Staff Officer of the Army Chief, the person should be one who could work in close liaison with the top General.

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