New Delhi, July 31 (PTI): General Dalbir Singh Suhag, whose appointment as Army Chief had kicked up a row, on Thursday took over as the head of the 1.3 million strong force succeeding Gen Bikram Singh.
Gen Dalbir Singh 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 modernisation in its artillery, infantry and air defence arms and is also preparing itself for facing a possible multi-front war.
Dalbir Singh, 59, 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 30 months as the 26th Army Chief.
Dalbir Singh 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 Dalbir Singh, the then 3 Corps Commander, was lifted soon after Gen Bikram Singh took over in May 2012.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, then in the Opposition, had questioned the hurry in making the appointment and insisted that the matter be left to the next government.
However, soon after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government took over, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said the new dispensation will continue with the appointment made during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance rule.
Dalbir Singh 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 the National Defence Academy in 1970 and was commissioned into 4/5 Gorkha Rifles (FF) in June 1974.
He commanded the 8 Mountain Division in Kargil from October 2007 to December 2008.