Member of the Year 2011
- May 26, 2010
With General VK Singh's exit, it'll be end of 71 era
With General VK Singh's exit, it'll be end of 71 era - Times Of IndiaCHANDIGARH: For the Indian Army, May 31 will be more than a day when its chief will retire. It will mark a generational shift in the 1.3-million-strong force. This is because when Gen V K Singh and another officer Lt Gen S R Ghosh, commander of Western Command, hang up their boots that day, they will be the last of the soldiers who fought the 1971 war, India's last full-fledged military engagement. There will be no serving personnel in the Indian Army now, who has fought in 1971.
At present, the Indian Army has only two officers - Gen Singh and Lt Gen Ghosh -- who were commissioned prior to the 1971 war and participated in the war. Their retirement would bring an end to the generation of officers, who had witnessed and participated in the war. When the designated Army chief, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, takes over, he would be the first Army chief to have been commissioned after the country's last full-fledged war.
Gen Bikram Singh was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment on March 31, 1972 -- three-and-a-half-months after the Indo-Pak war. Lt Gen Ghosh was commissioned in November 1971 with the Guards regiment and he hit the ground running in the Jammu and Kashmir front.
Other 1971 veterans who retired recently include Lt Gen V K Ahluwalia and Lt Gen A S Lamba (both from Artillery). Ahluwalia retired as commander, central command, in February, while Lamba retired as vice-chief of Army staff in October 2011.
"No doubt, it's a change. But, in today's scenario, when countries possess nuclear weapons, there's no chance of a high-intensity war that was witnessed in 1971. The change won't impact the operational preparedness of the Army due to introduction of latest technology that has changed the way wars are fought as compared to 1971," said former Army chief Gen V P Malik, who led the Army during the Kargil conflict.
"It is a change, though I may not call it a generational change. There are very few chances of the country witnessing a conventional war anymore," said war veteran Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, former vice-chief of Army, who lost a leg during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
Gen VK Singh to build a house in Dharamshala
After a two-year stint as Army chief, Gen V K Singh will spend his retired life in the tranquil surroundings of Dhauladhar ranges. He will start building his dream house in Tapovan village near Dharamshala.