Three days ahead of the crucial poll results, the outgoing Congress-led UPA-II government on Tuesday cleared the proposal to appoint Lt. General Dalbir Singh Suhag as the next army chief. Incumbent Army chief General Bikram Singh's tenure ends on July 31.
A day after defence minister AK Antony recommended Lt General Suhag's name for the top post, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by the prime minister Manmohan Singh formally approved the appointment.
Antony-led defence ministry initiated the process to appoint next army chief a month back, but the process got delayed after the Opposition BJP and former army chief General VK Singh accused the government of taking decision in 'undue haste'. The BJP even approached the Election Commission to stall the government's move. But on Monday, the poll panel gave its go-ahead for the appointment.
However, the UPA refuted the allegations saying that it was not a political decision. It added that it had followed the seniority principle and that it has stuck to the tradition of naming a chief three to two months ahead of the sitting chief's retirement.
Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, third generation soldier and a fitness freak, was commissioned in the Gorkha Rifles in 1974. He has a long experience in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East and had participated in IPKF operation in Sri Lanka also. General Singh has two daughters and a son. His wife Namita is a graduate in political science from Delhi University.
In January , Lt General Suhag took over as the vice-chief of Army Staff, considered as a precursor to his likely elevation to the top post. Prior to that, he was looking after the dual responsibility of counter insurgency operations in North Eastern states as well as conventional operations task along the Indo-China border and later as the Koktatta based Eastern army Commander.
The General was also Company Commander in "Operation Pawan" in Sri Lanka, raising and commanding a Rashtriya Rifles Battalion in Nagaland and an Infantry Brigade deeply committed in intense counter insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley. He also holds the distinction of commanding a Mountain Division in Jammu & Kashmir, deployed on the Line of Control in High Altitude Area.