Army Chiefs

General Sunith Francis Rodrigues

COAS, 30 June 1990 - 30 June 1993
Regiment of Artillery

General Sunith Francis Rodrigues assumed charge of the Indian Army, as the 16th Chief of Army Staff, on 30 June 1990. Born in Mumbai on 19 September 1933, he was educated at St Xaviers High School in Mumbai. He joined the Joint Services Wing of the Indian Military Academy in 1949 and was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in December 1952. An alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College, he commanded a Mountain Artillery Regiment from 1970 to 1971 and during the 1971 Indo-Pak War served as a General Staff Officer at a Corps HQ. In 1972, he was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) for distinguished service during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. He commanded a mountain brigade in high altitude from June 1975 to December 1977. In 1978, he attended a course at the Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK.

After serving as the Chief Instructor (Army) at DSSC for about three years, he took command of a division deployed in high altitude on becoming a Major General. In 1981, he earned his Master's Degree in Defence Studies. After a stint as the Chief of Staff of a Corps from 1983 to September 1985, he took over as the Director General Military Training (DGMT), on promotion to the rank of Lieutenant General in 1985. The next year, he took over the command of a corps in the northern sector, a post which he served for about three years. He was appointed as the Honorary ADC to the President in 1987 and in 1988, was decorated with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM).

He served as the Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) from 01 November 1987 to 20 April 1989, when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was deployed in Jaffna, Sri Lanka during Operation Pawan. He served as the GOC-in-C Central Command from 21 April 1989 to 31 October 1989 and later as the GOC-in-C Western Command from 01 November 1989 to 29 June 1990. He took over as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on 30 June 1990 and retired from service on 30 June 1993. He is known among his compatriots as a visionary and a strategist. It was during his tenure that the Army started inducting women officers. His tenure, however, was not totally without controversy. A remark made by him that good governance of the country was also the Army's business, led to a debate in Parliament.

Post retirement, he served as the Director of the International Centre, Goa for nearly six years. He also served two terms on the National Security Advisory Board. He has also been engaged in social and literary pursuits and has also been delivering talks on strategic issues. He takes a keen interest in education and empowering children to achieve their potential. He was on the Executive Council of Goa University for seven years and on the Managing Committee of the Goa Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He was appointed as the 32nd Governor of Punjab on 09 November 2004 and is the second former Army Chief, after General Om Prakash Malhotra (Retd.) to hold that appointment. He is also a long standing member of the Goa Planning Board and is on the Board of Governors of the Goa Institute of Management. He is married to Jean Rodrigues and they have two sons and a daughter.