Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, who became the face of Indian Army when he came out on television channels to announce surgical strikes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir in 2016, has been appointed Northern Army Commander.
Incidentally, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh had also make a statement on Indian Army's hot pursuit in the jungles of Indo-Myanmar border in June 2015. Headquartered in Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, Northern Command oversees operations in the northern borders with Pakistan and China.
Lt Gen Singh, an infantry soldier from the Dogra Regiment, will replace Lt Gen Anbu, who is moved to Delhi as the vice vhief of the Indian Army. Lt Gen Anbu will take over from Lt Gen Sarath Chandra who is superannuating from service on May 31.
Lt Gen Singh was the director general military operations (DGMO) during the Army’s surgical strikes in both Myanmar and across the LoC and played an important role in planning of these strikes. In June 2015, Special Forces had carried out “hot pursuit” days after the Naga militants killed 18 soldiers from 6 Dogra Regiments in an ambush in Chandel area of Manipur. A year later, on September 2016, Indian forces carried out surgical strikes in terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir in retaliation to terror attack on Uri army camp.
In both occasions, government decided to choose Lt Gen Singh to come out on media to announce Indian force's cross border operation.
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After the stint as DGMO, he commanded the Mathura based Strike Corps 1 and then served as the deputy chief of Army staff – Information Systems and Training—at the Army headquarters in New Delhi.
Lt Gen Singh, an alumni of Kapurthala Sainik School, graduated from the National Defence Academy. He was commissioned into 9 Dogra Regiment in 1980 and has held various important command, staff and instructor posts during his career of nearly four decades. He is considered to be an expert at counter insurgency operations, operational art and information operations.
Lt Gen Singh's appointment came at time when a month-long suspension of combat operation by security forces is underway with lot of speculation that government may consider extending it if situation improves in the Kashmir valley.
Sources also claimed that he is considered to be in race to be the next Army chief in 2019 after General Bipin Rawat. In fact, last year in December, when the Indian Army headquarters decided to reduce the residual service required for Lt Generals to be promoted as chiefs of its six operational and one training commands from 24 months to 18 months before superannuation, he was considered to be the first beneficiary of the scheme.