As Nepal is facing serious national security challenges at the threshold of promulgating the new constitution, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Rajendra Chhetri takes the helm as the full-fledged COAS from September 10.
The time is challenging as well as very difficult as political parties are completely divided on the basis of ethnicity and regions. The three party leaders are finalizing the new constitution through the Constituent Assembly and 22 districts of southern plains and eastern hills are witnessing a political unrest.
The decision of the NC-UML government to deploy the army in the disrupted areas has already created a furor. Some rights organizations have already raised the issue of army deployment during the times of political unrest.
As violence continues to intensify and Nepal Police and Nepal Armed Police alone fall short of maintaining the law and order, Nepal Army's involvement as a backup support cannot be ruled out.
COAS General Chhetri's challenges lie in how to move and provide credible assurances to the people about the security situation. As a professional soldier, who has seen all kinds of ups and downs, General Chhetri knows how to keep Nepal Army out of political controversy while providing security to the people.
The challenges before him are to save the Nepal Army as a professional institution away from the current political rifts of major parties. Nepal Army cannot side with either the three-party combine, Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist, or the other regional parties.
Nepal Army had a very bitter experiences with Nepali Congress and CPN-UML as they betrayed the security forces in shaking hands with Maoists and isolating the institution and its personnel that fought the Maoist insurgency under their constitutional order.
Although Home Minister and CPN-UML leader Bam Dev Gautam had made efforts to drag the army in controversy by deploying it in Tikapur without fulfilling the constitutional process, chief general Chhetri rescued the army from any controversy.
Born in Dudhkune Chowk of Chisapane in Tanahu district, General Chhetri went to Shanti Vidya Griha School for his high school education. According to Annapurna Post, it was a family tradition for Chhetri to join the army. His father Gopal Bahadur Chhetri was a Colonel and his grandfather retired as a Major of Nepal Army.
Even COAS General Chhetri's elder brother Ratindra Chhetri retried as Colonel and his brother Ramindra Chhetri is still serving as a Major general in Nepal Army.
With discipline and dedication to professionalism, General Chhetri is a very studious person. He headed the Nepal Military Academy for a long time. He joined Nepal Army as a second Lieutenant and got promoted over time to reach the top of the Nepal's oldest institution.
A cabinet meeting on August 10 decided to promote Chhetri as the Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) of the Nepal Army. Incumbent CoAS, Gaurav SJB Rana, was retiring on September 10.
Chhetri assumed the office as the CoAS from August 11 when CoAS Gaurav SJB Rana took leave from office for one month before the expiry of his tenure.
The government had promoted Chhetri to the post of Lt. General on February 24 on the recommendation of the Ministry of Defense, paving the way for his elevation to the post of army chief.
As a professional, coming from a middle class family, COAS General Chhetri will successfully handle the challenges. With a strong backing of professional officers and army with much international exposure in Peace Keeping Mission, Chhetri is expected to push Nepal Army to a new height.