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Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag appointed as 28th COAS

May 14, 2014 12:30 IST

Union Government on 13 May 2014 appointed Lieutenant General Dalbir Singh Suhag as the 28th Chief of Army Staff (COAS). Currently, he is serving as the Vice Chief of Army Staff.

He will assume the charge on 31 July 2014 the date on which General Bikram Singh retires. General Suhag will serve as the COAS for 29 month till 31 December 2016.

His name was cleared by the appointments committee of Cabinet (ACC) chaired by PM Manmohan Singh.

The process of appointment gained momentum after the Union Defence Ministry got a clearance from the Election Commission on 12 May 2014 and it recommended the name of Suhag.

Lieutenant General Suhag was commissioned into 4/5 Gorkha Rifles in June 1974. He will be the second Gorkha Rifles officer to become the Army chief after late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

He took over as the Eastern Army Commander on 16 June 2012.

The Controversy

The process of appointing Army Chief got mired in a controversy because of Bhartiya Janata Party's (BJP) opposition. The BJP opposed on the ground that former COAS Gen VK Singh had imposed a discipline and vigilance (DV) promotion ban on Lieutenant General Suhag in 2012.

He charged Lieutenant General Suhag with abdicating responsibility in handling a botched operation by an intelligence and surveillance unit under him as the 3 Corps commander in Dimapur.

But soon after Gen VK Singh retired in May 2012, Gen Bikram Singh had lifted the DV ban on Lieutenant General Suhag.

The Tradition of Appointing Services Chief

As per tradition over the years, a new service chief is usually named two to three months in advance, with the duration having ranged from 58 to 89 days. However, the UPA government deviated from this practice when Bikram Singh was appointed in 2012.

Lieutenant General Suhag's name was announced 79 days in advance which is two-and-a-half months restoring the traditionally followed process.

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