9 Vice Chiefs Who Went On To Become The Chief Of Indian Army

What Is VCOAS?

The Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) is the second most top brass in 1.3 million active Indian Army. A three-star general (Lieutenant General rank officer) generally holds the second-highest appointment.
The Vice army chief reports solely to the top dog, that is the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) who is four-star general (Full General)

Does The Vice Chief Have A Shot At Being The Army’s Top Brass?

With the current army chief General Bipin Rawat at the end of his tenure, and at the forefront for the race for the newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) position the screening procedure for the new army chief has begun. The stringent vetting procedure for the army’s top job has five general rank officers competing in the race.

Lt Gen. Manoj Mukund Naravne who has recently been appointed as the Vice army chief, will be the senior-most army officer after general Rawat’s retirement. Making Lt. Gen Narvane a likely candidate for the top post by seniority. Though seniority is not the only aspect for selection for army chief as displayed by the appointment of general Rawat and General Vaidya in1983. Rank and duration of service do however hold significant weight in criteria for selection. The selection of VCOAS Narvane as Army chief would not be the first time a Vice Cheif has reached the army’s highest office, with as many as nine Vice chiefs having been appointed as COAS.

List of Nine Vice Chiefs Who Rose To Army Chief

Vice Chief is usually a ‘Three Star General’

General Paramasiva Prabhakar Kumaramangalam: (1967-1969)

Service picture of General Kumaramangalam

He was an Artillery officer who went to serve as the 6th Army Chief. The General was succeeded by the legendary Field Marshall Sam Bahadur Manekshaw.

General Om Prakash Malhotra: (1978-1981)

Service portrait of Om Prakash Malhotra

Also an artillery officer, General Malhotra served as the country’s 13th Army chief. The General was awarded the Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) for distinguished service to the nation. He went to serve the country as a foreign service officer.

General Krishnaswamy Sunderji: (1986-1988)

General Sunderji at the centre, picture taken during ‘Operation Bluestar’

An Infantry officer from the Mahar Regiment, the general was famous for his role in the Infamous ‘Operation Bluestar’ and his role in ‘Operation Brasstacks’. General Sunderji had been conferred the Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) for services rendered to the country.

General Sunith Francis Rodrigues: (1990-1993)

General Rodrigues as Punjab Governor

General Rodrigues was another Artillery officer who rose to become the top brass. The General was awarded both the Vishist Seva Medal (VSM) and the Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) for his distinguished service. General Rodrigues went on to become the Governor of Punjab, a portfolio for which he received widespread positive press.

General Ved Prakash Malik: (1997-2000)

General Mallik in Civvies

An officer from the renowned Sikh Light Infantry, he went on to serve as the Indian Army Chief During the Kargil War. He was awarded both the Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) and the Vishist Seva Medal (VSM) for his meritorious service to the nation.

General Nirmal Chander Vij: (2003-2005)

General Vij on the right with succeeding Army Chief General JJ Singh to the left (Courtesy Getty Images)

An officer from the famed Dogra regiment, he went on to serve as the country’s 21st army chief. He was awarded the Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM) Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) Athi Vishsit Seva Medal (AVSM) for his service to the country.

General Deepak Kapoor: (2007-2009)

General Deepak Kapoor

A General from the regiment of Artillery, he served as the country’s 23rd Chief of Army Staff. The general has been awarded a plethora of decorations such as the Sena Medal (SM) Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM), Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) and the Athi Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM). He had even served as an aide de camp to an Indian general when he was a young officer.

General Dalbir Singh Suhag: (2014-2016)

General Dalbir Singh Suhaag

An officer from the 5/11 Gorkha Rifles, he served as the Indian army’s 26th army chief. he was awarded the Param VIshist Seva Medal (PVSM), Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM), Athi Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM), Vishist Seva Medal (VSM) for distinguished service to the country (He is currently serving as the High Commissioner to Seychelles.

General Bipin Rawat: (2016-Present)

Current Army Chief Bipin Rawat

General Bipin Rawat is the current army chief, famous for his bold military reforms and strategic acumen. He due to retire in December.

So Who’s The Next Chief?

The answer to that question is that it is too early to tell, however, given the track record of the last two Army Chief’s being former Vice Chief’s themselves. The chances for Lt. General Narvane, given his experience and seniority, is significantly hopeful. The rest as of now is a waiting game.

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