Lt-Gen Raju, who was commissioned into the Jat Regiment in December 1984 and is a qualified helicopter pilot, is currently the director-general of military operations and oversaw the Army’s overall operational readiness along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control with China during the continuing military confrontation in eastern Ladakh.
Though it is rare for a Lt-Gen to become the vice chief without a tenure as the GOC-in-C of one of the Army’s six regional and one training commands, there have been a few precedents earlier.
Gen Sunith Francis Rodrigues, who passed away last month, for instance, first became the vice chief and then commanded the Central and Western Commands before taking over as the Army chief in 1990. The vice chief and the GOC-in-Cs of the seven Army commands are of the same rank as senior Lt-Gens.
Lt-Gen Raju, who will take over as the vice chief on Sunday, commanded his battalion during Operation Parakram in the western theatre and Jammu & Kashmir. He commanded the Uri brigade along the Line of Control, a counter-insurgency force and then the crucial 15 ‘Chinar’ Corps in the Kashmir Valley. He has also served as the commandant of the Indian Military training team in Bhutan.