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Wednesday, August 02, 2000

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Lt. Gen. Padmanabhan, new Army Chief


By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, AUG. 1. Lt. Gen. Sundararajan Padmanabhan will be the next Chief of the Army Staff replacing Gen. V.P Malik, who retires on September 30.

Belonging to the artillery regiment, Lt. Gen. Padmanabhan will be the first gunner to head the Army after Gen. S.F Rodriguez.

Known as a cerebral officer, Lt. Gen. Padmanabhan has sometimes been faulted for his boldness, naturally aggressive military instincts and a pro-active professional disposition.

Though belonging to the artillery, Lt. Gen. Padmanabhan is widely experienced. He has been at the helm in countering insurgency in Kashmir. As the corps commander of the sensitive Srinagar-based 15 corps, he played a key role in the peaceful tackling of the Hazratbal crisis - takeover of the shrine by the Kashmir militants. Later, as the northern army commander, Lt. Gen. Padmanabhan has been lauded for his contribution in blunting the brunt of the Kashmir insurgency and paving the way for elections which made Dr. Farooq Abdullah the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

Lt. Gen. Padmanabhan has been a specialist in mountain warfare and psychological operations.

Lt. Gen. Padmanabhan has been well acquainted in the conduct of warfare in the desert and jungle terrain. Prior to his present appointment, he headed the southern command which specialises in making speedy armoured thrusts in the Gujarat- Rajasthan desert sectors.

Born on December 5, 1940, at Thiruvananthapuram, Lt. Gen. Padmanabhan decided to pursue a career in the armed forces in his early years. Not surprisingly, he finished school from the Dehra Dun-based Rashtriya Indian Military College. In 1956, he joined the National Defence Academy before being commissioned in the artillery on December 13, 1959.

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