Kathmandu, November 3
Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Purna Chandra Thapa will likely take over the post of Nepali Army chief a day before he turns 58, the retirement age for a lieutenant general.
The retirement age of army chief is 61 years, according to the Nepali Army Act.
Until yesterday, Thapa was third in the hierarchy after CoAS Rajendra Chhetri and CoS Lieutenant General Baldev Raj Mahat. However, after Mahat retired today, Thapa rose to the second position. CoAS Chhetri will be retiring on September 9, 2018, a day before Thapa turns 58. So Thapa will be at the helm of the country’s top security agency for three years until he turns 61.
Mahat had joined the NA on March 2, 1980, while Thapa started his army career in 1979.
Nepali Army Spokesperson and Director of Public Relations and Information Brigadier General Nainraj Dahal said Thapa was most likely to take over as CoAS on the basis of seniority.
With Thapa’s promotion, the NA has proposed promoting Major General Hemant Kuwar to the post of lieutenant general to fill the vacant position.
The NA has already circulated a 15-day notice for the same. It will take a proposal to this effect to the Cabinet for final approval, said Dahal.
Thapa already has some experience of heading the army. He was made acting CoAS when CoAS Chhetri visited the US to participate in the ‘Global Chiefs of Defense Conference on Countering Violent Extremist Organisations’ from October 21 to 26. During the period Lt Gen Mahat too was out of the country.
Born on 9 September 1960, Thapa joined the Nepali Army as an officer cadet in 1979 and was commissioned as second lieutenant in to Gorakh Bahadur Battalion on 12 December 1980.
During 36 years of military service, Thapa held various command and staff appointments at various levels, both at home and abroad. He enriched his experience at the highest level while leading a team representing the Government of Nepal and the Nepali Army as vice-chairman (2009-2011) of the joint monitoring coordination committee in United Nations Mission in Nepal. He served as the head of mission, force commander and the designated official of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force in Golan Heights from 8 February 2015 to 8 February 2016.
He is a graduate of Tribhuwan University in Humanities and Social sciences. He also holds a degree of Master of Philosophy in Defense and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras, India. Both his father and grandfather were officers in the Nepali Army.
A version of this article appears in print on November 04, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.