New Delhi: The Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh is the face of the surgical strikes carried out by Indian army against terrorist outposts across the de facto Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan on Thursday.

Singh caught the nation’s imagination on 18 September after Pakistan-backed terrorists attacked the Uri army camp, killing 18 soldiers.

He addressed the country and reassured of action. He said the Indian army reserves “the right to respond at a time and place of our choosing" and that it has “the desired capability to respond to such blatant acts of aggression and violence as deemed appropriate". 

Then, for 10 days there was radio silence. Some thought the statement was meant to be a lip service.

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Then on Thursday, Singh made an appearance at the ministry of external affairs. He broke the news that India had carried out surgical strikes killing terrorists across the LoC, overturning years of strategic restraint policy pursued by New Delhi.

“It is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region," he said on Thursday. “But we cannot allow the terrorists to operate across the Line of Control with impunity and attack citizens of our country at will. In line with Pakistan’s commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for attacks against India, we expect the Pakistani army to cooperate with us to erase the menace of terrorism from the region."

Late last year, he was made the DGMO—one of the top positions in the army.

The DGMO is one of the principal staff officers to the Chief of Army Staff and monitors minute-to-minute counter-insurgency operations and developments on the borders with Pakistan and China and reports to the vice-chief.

​​Singh, who has served with UN missions in Angola and Rwanda, graduated from the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington. He has also studied at Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK and Faculty of Studies at the Army War College, Mhow.

He belongs to Jalandhar and is an alumnus of Sainik School, Kapurthala. He passed out of the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, on December 13, 1980.

His family belongs to Ambala Jattan village near Garhdiwala in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, but is now settled in Jalandhar.

His uncle Colonel Manmohan Singh (retd) took care of Singh, after his father’s death at an early age.

“Ranbir was always a topper be it at school or in military courses. He faithfully followed my advice and remained a teetotaler," Col Manmohan Singh told Hindustan Times in comments published on Friday. Manmohan Singh is the deputy director of Sainik Welfare in Jalandhar.

An analyst said DGMO conveyed the message well.

“DGMO is the nerve centre of the army. It controls all its operations. Not everybody is selected for it. He must be a very high caliber general," Laxman Kumar Behera, analyst at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

“India wanted to convey a political message to Pakistan that we will go inside to destroy your terror camps. Pakistan now knows that India has the political reserve to respond to any such terror attacks in India debunking its nuclear myth. Earlier, this political messaging was missing . DGMO had to pass on that message. I think he did it very well. It was precise and to the point —that we don’t war but we have overcome the strategic restraint shown earlier. Whatever he said carried a lot of weight."

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