New Delhi: Former army chief Gen. (retd) JJ Singh was today conferred with the highest French civilian distinction, Officer of the Legion of Honour.
Singh was chosen for the honour in recognition of his "stellar role" in modernising the Indian Army and initiating robust exchanges between the Indian and French armies leading to "unprecedented" levels of cooperation and inter- operability and creation of enduring ties and promotion of mutual understanding between the two countries, the French Embassy said here.
'Officier de l'Ordre national de la Legion d'Honneur' is the highest civilian award given by the French Republic for outstanding service to France, regardless of the nationality of the recipients.
Singh was conferred the honour by French Ambassador to India, Francois Richier.
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy and holder of a master's degree in Defence Science, Singh was commissioned into the 9th Maratha Light Infantry on August 2, 1964.
In January, 2003, he was appointed as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) and took over as Army Commander - Western Command in January, 2004.
On January 31, 2005, Singh assumed the office of Chief of Army Staff.
In 2007, he also held the appointment of Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the three forces.
Working tirelessly for the enhancement of military cooperation between the Indian and French armies, he led an inter-services delegation to France that year.
It was during his tenure that he mooted the idea of holding joint army exercises at the level already existing between the two countries' air forces (Garuda) and navies (Varuna).
"It was thus that the 'Shakti' inter-army exercise later came into being in 2011," the statement said.
In 2009, he was invited as the Guest of Honour for the French National Day military parade in Paris in which an Indian Army contingent took part for the first time.
After his retirement in September 2007, Singh served as the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh from 2008 to 2013.