NEW DELHI: Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, whose appointment as Army Chief had kicked up a row, today took over as the head of the 1.3 million strong force succeeding Gen Bikram Singh.
Gen Suhag assumed charge after his predecessor handed over to him the Chief of Army Staff baton in his South Block office here.
The new Chief takes over at a time when the force is facing challenges of modernsation in its artillery, infantry and air defence arms and is also preparing itself for facing a possible multi-front war.
59-year-old Suhag, a Gurkha officer who had participated in the 1987 Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operation in Sri Lanka, was till now the Vice Chief of Army Staff.
He will have a tenure of 30 months as the 26th Army Chief. Suhag was made the Vice Chief of Army Staff in December last year. Before that, he was the Eastern Army Commander from June 16, 2012. He was at the centre of a controversy triggered by 'discipline and vigilance' ban imposed on him by the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh in connection with an intelligence operation in Assam earlier.
The ban on Suhag, the then 3 Corps Commander, was lifted soon after Gen Bikram Singh took over in May 2012.
BJP had questioned the hurry in making the appointment and insisted that the matter be left to the next government.
However, soon after the NDA government took over, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said the new dispensation will continue with the appointment made during the UPA rule.
Suhag was a Company Commander in 'Operation Pawan' in Sri Lanka in 1987 and commanded 53 Infantry Brigade engaged in counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley from July 2003 to March 2005.
An alumnus of Sainik School, Chittorgarh, he joined National Defence Academy in 1970 and was commissioned into 4/5 GR (FF) in June 1974.
The General Officer has attended various career courses in India and abroad which include LDMC at CDM, Secunderabad in 1997-98, NDC Course at New Delhi in 2006, Executive Course in USA in 2005 and Senior Mission Leaders Course (UN) in Kenya in 2007.
He holds the distinction of commanding 8 Mountain Division in Kargil from October 2007 to December 2008.