Joginder Jaswant Singh

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Gen. Joginder Jaswant Singh
Born (1945-09-17) 17 September 1945 (age 69)
Bahawalpur, British India
Allegiance  India
Service/branch Indian Army
Years of service Jan 1961 - 30 Sept 2007
Rank General of the Indian Army.svg General
Unit Maratha Light Infantry
Commands held Western Command
Army Training Command
I Corps
9th Infantry Division
79th (Independent) Mountain Brigade
5th Battalion Maratha LI
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Kargil War

General Joginder Jaswant Singh (born 17 September 1945) was the 22nd Chief of the Army Staff of the India Army. He was appointed on November 27, 2004, and took over the role when his predecessor, General N C Vij, retired on 31 January 2005. He was succeeded by General Deepak Kapoor. He served as Chief of army staff from January 31, 2005, to September 30, 2007.

He is the first Sikh to have led the Indian Army and the 11th chief of army staff from the Western Command based at Chandigarh. His selection was not a surprise, as at the time of his appointment he was the most senior officer in the army after General N C Vij. Following his retirement, he became Governor of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in January 2008.

He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned into the 9 Maratha Light Infantry on 2 August 1964.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Joginder Jaswant Singh was born on 17 September 1945 at Samma Satta in the Punjab, the first child of Lieutenant Colonel Jaswant Singh Marwah (b. 11 January 1921) and his wife Jaspal Kaur (d. February 2006). Sama Satta was then a town in the princely state of Bahawalpur State, now part of Pakistan. His family originated from the town of Daultala, now also in Pakistan, Rawalpindi District. He is a third-generation soldier; his paternal grandfather Sepoy (Private) Atma Singh Marwah (1896-July 1967) enlisted in the 1/67 Punjab Regiment of the British Indian Army as a drummer in 1914, and fought at the Siege of Kut in the Mesopotamian Campaign during the First World War. Wounded in his right elbow and arm early on, he was evacuated and sent to recuperate in the south of France, after which he was discharged from the army in 1918. Joginder's father, Jaswant, is a veteran of the Second World War who passed out from the Indian Military Academy in April 1943 and was commissioned into the Royal Indian Army Service Corps. In 1944, he was posted to the Reserve Supply Depot at Karachi, and married his wife Jaspal Kaur in December 1944. In February 1945, he was posted to Sama Satta and given command of a petroleum sub-depot; Joginder was born that September.[1] After independence and Partition in August 1947, the family migrated to Patiala in India. In 1948, Jaswant transferred to the Indian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a captain.

Growing up, Joginder and his family lived in different army cantonments across north India, as his father was frequently transferred. As an army brat, Joginder naturally took to army life and culture. He received his early education in Catholic girls convent schools, St. Anne's in Secunderabad and St Mary's Presentation Convent in Jammu, where his father was stationed from 1956-1960 as a major commanding the Recovery Company. In 1958, he transferred to Model Academy in Jammu and matriculated in 1960.[1] While Jaswant was posted to Udhampur in 1959, the family remained in Jammu. Joginder enjoyed the natural beauty of Kashmir, travelling with his family to various scenic places in Jammu and in Srinagar.

Junior officer[edit]

In January 1961, Joginder joined the 25th course of the National Defence Academy, and was still a cadet when the Sino-Indian War broke out in 1962. The deputy commandant of the NDA at the time, Brigadier Hoshiar Singh, was given command of a brigade under the 4th Infantry Division and was killed in action. Largely unprepared for war and humiliated by its defeats, the Indian armed forces underwent a large-scale expansion after hostilities ended, with emergency commissions given to several thousand candidates from 1963 to 1965. The one-year training at the NDA was shortened to seven months, as a result of which Joginder and his class were commissioned early as second lieutenants on 2 August 1964, with Joginder receiving his officer's pips from his father at the paasing-out ceremony. His grandfather Atma Singh also gave him his blessing, saying, "God willing, the son of a private shall be a colonel, and the son of the colonel shall be a general!" [1]

Military career[edit]

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General Joginder Jaswant Singh assumed command of the Indian Army, as the 22nd chief of army staff, on 31 January 2005 commanding an army of over a million soldiers.[2] He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned into the 9 Maratha Light Infantry on 2 August 1964. He received the colour of the battalion from the late president Dr. Zakir Hussain at the Investiture Parade in 1968.


During his tenure with the 7th and 9th Maratha LI and also while on higher command and staff appointments, General Singh has served in Jammu & Kashmir, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Joshimath in Uttranchal. He was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal during his command tenure with the 9 Maratha Light Infantry in Arunachal Pradesh. He later commanded the 5th Maratha LI at Hyderabad in the rank of colonel. A consistent front-runner, he was the youngest and one of the first in his batch to attend Staff College, Senior Command, Higher Command and National Defence College courses. He has contributed articles to regimental and other professional journals and his thesis on "Sino-Indian Border Dispute" and "Strategy to Boost Defence Exports" have been highly acclaimed. He has the honour of being India's first defence attaché to Algeria (1987–1990).

After returning from Algeria, General Singh commanded the 79th (Independent) Mountain Brigade in the Baramula Sector, Jammu & Kashmir, during the peak of insurgency there in 1991–92. During this tenure, he was gravely wounded in action leading from the front, in a fierce engagement with terrorists infiltrating across the Line of Control (LoC). For that operation he received the War Wound Medal and was awarded the Chief of Army Staff's Commendation. He was nominated to attend the prestigious National Defence College (NDC) course in 1993. He was posted as Deputy Director General Operational Logistics in Army HQ after the NDC Course and later commanded the 9th Infantry Division from 1996 to 1998.

General Singh was then selected for a key appointment as the Additional Director General Military Operations (ADGMO) at Army HQ, Military Operations Directorate. During his tenure as ADGMO, he contributed positively to evolving India's policy on the Sino-Indian border issue and visited Beijing as part of the Joint Working Group. He was also part of the Ministry of Defence team for talks with Pakistan on the Siachen and Sir Creek issue in 1998. He also visited Sierra Leone with the defence minister, where an Indian contingent carried out successful operations as part of the UN Mission. As the ADGMO, he became the Indian Army's public face during the 1999 Kargil conflict. He was decorated with the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in recognition of his services in the planning and execution of the war.

General Singh assumed command of the elite 1 "Strike"' Corps at Mathura. He successfully coordinated the corps-level exercise Poorna Vijay in May 2001 in the deserts of Rajasthan. He subsequently led 1 Corps during Operation Parakram, the military standoff against Pakistan, from December 2001 to December 2002. He was then appointed of the Army Training Command in January 2003, where he was credited with drafting a new doctrine for the Indian Army. He was instrumental in giving the Command a distinctly discernible and widely appreciated thrust towards modernisation. After his stint at ARTRAC, he stated, "Every assignment has its own importance, but the one at ARTRAC, the think-tank of the Army, has been quite different as it plays a crucial role in preparing the Army for future challenges in a constantly changing battlefield milieu. The responsibility involved development of new concepts and doctrines at the strategic and operational levels for the emerging security environment, besides framing of the training policy and providing training support to the Army in all its facets." He was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) on 26 January 2004 for his distinguished services of the highest order.

General Singh took over as the general officer commanding-in-chief Western Command on 1 February 2004, and his tenure at this elite command provided an opportunity to put into practice the concepts and doctrines evolved at ARTRAC. He refined operational planning by co-opting the battle-winning role of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and provided focused direction based on the recently released "Doctrine for the Indian Army", having earlier been its architect. He simultaneously gave training a visionary direction in conjunction with principles of synergetic cohesiveness at all levels. His tenure at Western Command also saw a quantum leap in the implementation of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS). He was also appointed as honorary aide-de-camp (ADC) to the president of India on 1 February 2004.

On assuming the office of chief of army staff on 1 February 2005, General Singh stated in a message, "We stand poised at a critical juncture in the timeline of history. Having left behind us the vagaries of the past, we purposefully stride towards economic growth, social harmony, peace and prosperity. Simultaneously and seamlessly, we are also making the transition to a highly motivated and modern Army, driven by the engines of high technology and Revolution in Military Affairs. I assure our countrymen that the Army will remain at the service of the nation, at all times, ready and eager to take on any challenge with determination and resolve to emerge victorious."[citation needed] He is widely considered to be a thinking soldier and is a through professional.

Affectionately known as "General JJ" within army circles, he was appointed Colonel of the Maratha Light Infantry on 10 October 2001. He is an ace shooter and plays basketball, squash, and golf. He is also a keen mountaineer who has trained under the late Tenzing Norgay at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling.

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Mrs Anupam Singh and they have a son and a daughter. Singh and his wife both belong to the Marwah clan, though neither uses the name as their surname.

He is fluent in Arabic and French, the widely spoken languages in Algeria.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Singh, Joginder Jaswant (2012). A Soldier's General: An Autobiography. HarperCollins Publishers India. pp. 3–20. ISBN 9789350291337. 
  2. ^ JJ Singh: Hail the chief

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Nirmal Chander Vij
Chief of Army Staff
2005–2007
Succeeded by
General Deepak Kapoor
Government offices
Preceded by
K. Sankaranarayanan
Governor of Arunachal Pradesh
2008–2013
Succeeded by
Nirbhay Sharma