Brilliant soldier, thorough professional and gentleman to the core are how course mates and colleagues describe Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, 57.
In a break from tradition, the director general of military operations (DGMO), who planned the Indian Army’s surgical strikes against terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Thursday, briefed the media himself. In doing so, he became the face of the army and the man of the moment.
“Unlike the briefings during the Kargil war when the army spokesperson addressed the media, this time we heard it straight from the DGMO,” says Chandigarh-based Col Avnish Sharma (retd), a course mate of Lt Gen Ranbir Singh at IMA. “He is the first infantry officer after former army chief General K Sundarji to command an armoured division. It is a huge feather in his cap. It speaks volumes about his competence and versatility,” he adds.
Lt Gen Ranbir Singh commanded 33 Armoured Division at Hisar in 2012. He has served as a colonel and brigadier in the directorate general of military operations, the nerve centre of military policy, planning and conduct of operations.
The general belongs to Jalandhar and is an alumnus of Sainik School, Kapurthala. He passed out of the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, on December 13, 1980, and was commissioned in 9 Dogra, which he went on to command.
Brought up by his uncle, Colonel Manmohan Singh (retd), after his father’s death at an early age, he excelled in academics throughout. “Ranbir was always a topper be it at school or in military courses. He faithfully followed my advice and remained a teetotaller,” says Col Manmohan Singh, who is the deputy director of sainik welfare in Jalandhar.
The family belongs to Ambala Jattan village near Garhdiwala in Hoshiarpur district but is now settled in Jalandhar.
Though his juniors have taken over command of corps, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, who is also approved to command one in a month or two, has been retained in his present post because of the competence and professionalism he brings to the job at this critical juncture.
Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, who served with UN missions in Angola and Rwanda, graduated from the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington before taking command of his battalion, 9 Dogra. After commanding a brigade, he did a year-long course at the Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK.
He has also served on the Faculty of Studies at the Army War College, Mhow, after doing the higher command course.