Army Chiefs

General Nirmal Chander Vij


COAS, 31 Dec 2002 - 31 Jan 2005
Infantry, Dogra Regiment

General Nirmal Chander Vij assumed charge of the Indian Army, as the 21st Chief of Army Staff, on 31 December 2002. Born in January 1943 at Jammu, he completed his studies at the SRML Higher Secondary School, also at Jammu. He joined the National Defence Academy (NDA) in 1959 and subsequently commenced his distinguished career in the Indian Army upon being commissioned into the 4th Dogra on 11 December 1962.

Within weeks of his commissioning, he saw action in the Walong sector during the 1962 Indo-China War. Since then, he has served in the eastern sector on six separate occasions, a unique achievement in the Indian Army, the last time being as the GOC 4 Corps. During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, his company was the first one to occupy the 'Chicken Neck' and also capture the 'Chhote Chak' post of Pakistan in the Miran Sahib Sector. He commanded the 16th Dogra from June 1978 to September 1980. A specialist in military operations, he has served as the General Staff Officer of an Infantry Division, a Director in the Military Operations Directorate as a Colonel and Deputy Director General of Perspective Planning (Strategic Planning) as a Brigadier at Army HQ in New Delhi. Among his numerous achievements in the Indian Army was the planning & execution of Operation Khukri - to extricate trapped Indian peacekeeping troops in Sierra Leone.

General Vij served as the Major General General Staff (MGGS) at the Western Command in Chandimandir, Chandigarh (Punjab) in 1996 and was decorated with the Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM) for his services. He was then appointed as the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) and held that post during the 1999 Kargil Operations. For his distinguished services as the DGMO, he was awarded the Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM). The formations he has commanded include the 44th Mountain Brigade involved in active counter-insurgency operations in the north east, the elite 18th Infantry Division (RAPID), the 21 Strike Corps based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh and the 4 Corps based at Tezpur, Assam. As GOC of 4 Corps, he was instrumental in ensuring large-scale surrender of United liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) insurgents. For his exceptional performance as the GOC of 4 Corps, he was awarded Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM). On 01 October 2000, he was appointed as the GOC of Southern Command at Pune and led the Indian Army's rescue efforts during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. In October 2001, he was appointed as the Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) at New Delhi and in January 2002, he was appointed as the 10th Colonel of the Dogra Regiment and the Dogra Scouts.

On 31 December 2002, he took over as the Chief of Army Staff. As the COAS, it was through his passion and untiring efforts that the border fencing in Jammu & Kashmir was completed. The wide spectrum of activities that received an impetus due to his intimate involvement were the Married Accommodation Project (MAP), the establishment of professional colleges and the Ex-Servicemen's Health Scheme (ECHS). Also during his tenure as COAS, the Royal Bhutan Army and the Indian Army undertook a joint operation to evict the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) from their bases in Bhutan in December 2003. He was also appointed as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) on 31 December 2004. He is married to Mrs. Rita Vij and they have a son, Nalin, who is a software engineer in the United States. General Vij retired on 31 January 2005, after completing more than 42 years of distinguished military service. He is presently the Honorary Colonel of the Dogra Regiment & Dogra Scouts and also Deputy Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, Government of India.