Army Chief to embark on four-day UK tour

Army Chief to embark on four-day UK tour

Army chief General V K Singh is undertaking a four-day tour to UK on February 14, a move that could scotch media speculation about his resignation in the near future after his loss in the legal battle over his age in the Supreme Court.

A release issued by the Army said that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) will be interacting with senior military and civilian hierarchy and discussing various defence related issues to strengthen existing defence ties with UK during his visit from February 14 to 17.

The last visit by a COAS to the UK was in Mar 2008. This will be the Army Chief's first visit abroad after the Supreme Court order on his age row on February 10, which said the government decision on his date of birth will apply to his service matters, forcing him to withdraw his petition.

Soon after the order, there was intense media speculation that the Army chief could quit soon even before his term is over as a number of names made rounds for the next COAS.

The Army chief has plans to return to the country by February 20, the sources said. India shares good bilateral and strategic relations with the UK that are multifaceted and have been strengthened over the years, with regular exchange of visits at political, diplomatic and military levels.

A strong bilateral relationship is of priority of both countries, for economic, commercial, historical and foreign policy reasons and the large Indian diaspora in UK. The visit by the COAS will add the necessary impetus to the existing defence relationship and broad-base it, into a mutually beneficial partnership, the release said.

India's relations in the field of defence with UK have graduated to comprehensive defence cooperation, to include courses, training for UN Peacekeeping Operations, joint training including exercise in the fields of counter terrorism including employment of Special Forces and exchange of observers on each others’ Army exercises.

During the visit, the COAS will be visiting Land Warfare Centre in Salisbury plains and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, the press release said. During his visit to Land Warfare Centre, Singh will witness the training and preparation of UK Army Brigade preparing for induction into Afghanistan.