General Upendra Dwivedi on Sunday took over as the 30th chief of the Indian Army. He has succeeded General Manoj Pande, who retired after more than four decades of distinguished service.

General Upendra Dwivedi.

Known in the army as a decisive and innovative leader, Dwivedi was commissioned into 18 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in 1984. He is an alumnus of Sainik School, Rewa, National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, and Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.

“General Dwivedi is an accomplished military leader, with 40 years of service in the army. The General officer has a unique distinction of balanced command as well as staff exposure across Northern, Eastern and Western theatres, in varied operational environments,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

The 60-year-old officer is a vegetarian, yoga enthusiast and has a passion for photography and reading, said senior army officials who have known Dwivedi for decades. He excelled in physical training as a cadet in the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Indian Military Academy (IMA) and went on to win a gold medal at the Pune-based Army Institute of Physical Training when he was a young lieutenant.

He also excelled in athletics in his early years in the army, with triple jump being his favourite discipline, the officials said.

Dwivedi took over as the army’s vice chief in February 2024, after serving as the Northern Army commander for two years. The Udhampur-based Northern Command is responsible for guarding the country’s borders with Pakistan and China in the north and is the nerve centre of counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

He has taken over as army chief at a time when the military standoff between India and China in the sensitive Ladakh sector is now in its fifth year, with no indication of an immediate resolution to the problems along the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) even as India is hoping that ongoing negotiations with the neighbour will help restore the status quo ante of April 2020.

As Northern Army commander, Dwivedi provided strategic guidance and operational oversight for planning and execution of sustained operations along the northern and western borders, besides orchestrating dynamic counter-terrorism operations in J&K. He oversaw negotiations with China to resolve the outstanding issues along LAC.

Dwivedi has taken over as army chief at a time when the global geo-strategic environment remains dynamic, with the challenges in the security domain becoming more pronounced due to technological advancements and the ever-changing character of modern warfare, the statement said.

“Operational preparedness to counter security threats to a rising nation would figure prominently as a key focus area for the army chief. Concurrently, a focused response strategy to myriad non-traditional security challenges too shall be a priority (for him) towards augmenting the nation’s defence,” it added.

In a military career spanning 40 years, he has served as deputy chief in the Army Headquarters, the General Officer Commanding of the Yol-based HQs 9 Corps, director general of infantry, and Inspector General Assam Rifles in the North-east. He also commanded his battalion in the Kashmir valley and Rajasthan.

As director general of infantry, Dwivedi steered and fast-tracked capital procurement of weapons, leading to significant capability enhancement for the armed forces. As deputy chief of army staff (information system and coordination), he provided impetus to automation and absorption of niche technologies in the force.

His overseas exposure includes tenures in Somalia and Seychelles.

He has attended the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Higher Command Course at Army War College, Mhow, and the US Army War College in Carlisle.

Dwivedi brings with him a wealth of experience and has a proven track record of delivering results, the officials said. Indigenisation of weapons and systems will be among his foremost priorities, they said.

“The General officer has a deep understanding of modern and emerging technologies in the security domain and possesses a thoughtful approach of harnessing and integrating cutting edge technologies into military systems to enhance operational effectiveness. This vision finds congruence to the ongoing pursuit of the Indian Army to fulfil its modernisation and capability development needs through Atmanirbharta,” the statement said.

His focus would be on augmenting infusion of critical technologies by leveraging the country’s vibrant, capable and productive technology ecosystem, it said, adding that he will work towards promoting a culture of trust, empowerment of junior officers, well-being of soldiers and welfare of veterans and Veer Naris (army widows).

Dwivedi has also taken over at a time when some National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies have called for a review of the Agnipath scheme for the short-term recruitment of soldiers.

The Agnipath model was a major departure from the military’s decades-old recruitment system that was scrapped when the NDA government announced the new scheme in June 2022. It seeks to recruit soldiers for only four years, with a provision to retain 25% of them in regular service. Those recruited under the new scheme are called Agniveers.

Dwivedi has assumed charge at a time when steps are being taken to create theatre commands, a long-standing and crucial reform for the best use of the military’s resources to fight future wars.