New Delhi: Lt General Sarath Chand will assume office as the vice-chief of Army Staff, in place of General Bipin Rawat, promoted chief of Army Staff this week. The officer, a native of Kerala, was serving as the general officer commanding-in-chief of the South Western Command which covers the Punjab-Rajasthan sector along the border with Pakistan.
Son of the late N. Prabhakaran Nair and G. Saradamma of Kurumballur, near Kottarakkara, Chand did his schooling at Devi Vilasam Upper Primary School, Neduvathoor and Sainik School, Kazhakoottam. He later joined the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy before being commissioned into the Garhwal Rifles in 1979.
In a careers spanning over 36 years, the officer has served in various combat and strategic roles. He was a company commander along the Line of Control in Kargil, was part of action against the LTTE in Sri Lanka, was battalion commander during Operation Rhino targeted at infiltrators in Assam and Operation Falcon along the Chinese border in Arunachal Pradesh.
He served as brigade commander in the desert area along the border with Pakistan before leading a division in Kashmir as Major-General.
As Lt general, he led the 4th Corp in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
His other assignments include that of instructor in the Commando Wing of the Infantry School, brigade major in a mountain brigade, colonel-general staff at an infantry division along the Chinese border, a brigade-general staff at a mountain division and staff officer at a United States mission in Somalia.
Chand was honored with the Vishishta Seva Medal in 2006 and the Ati Vishishta Seva Medal in 2014. He is married to Bindu, who hails from Punalur.
He has two sons: Abhilash Chand, a major in the Engineering Corp, and Abhijit Chand, a Naval lieutenant.
Lt Gen S.K. Pillai, who passed away on April 8, 2015, was the first officer from Kerala to be the vice-chief of army staff.