Indian Army's Southern Command chief, Lt Gen S.K. Saini will be the force's new vice chief, taking charge a day before the Republic Day, a top army official said on Friday. The post fell vacant after incumbent, Lt Gen M.M. Naravane, was elevated as the Chief of Army Staff. An alumnus of Sainik School Kapurthala and the National Defence Academy, Saini was commissioned into the Jat Regiment in June 1981.
He commanded his battalion (7 Jat), a mountain brigade, a counter-insurgency force in Jammu and Kashmir, a corps in the western theatre before heading the Pune-headquartered Southern Army Command.
Saini has also been weapons instructor in the National Security Guard's Training Centre, senior directing staff at the National Defence College, New Delhi and the Commandant of the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun.
As Southern Army Commander, he steered transformation of the command's operational philosophy to overwhelm the emerging threats and validation of many new concepts during training exercises.
He had also served as the Deputy Chief Military Personnel Officer in UN Mission in Iraq- Kuwait, attended an exercise on peacekeeping conducted by the Global Peace Operations initiative in Mongolia and a counter-terrorism exercise in Australia.
During his long service, Lt Gen Saini has been conferred with a number of awards, both for gallantry and distinguished service, including the 'Chief of Army Staff Commendation', 'Army Commander Commendation', 'Yudh Seva Medal', 'Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM)', and the 'Ati Vishisht Seva Medal'.