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Satish Nambiar
Born 30 Aug 1936
Place of birth Mumbai
Allegiance  India
Service/branch Indian Army
Rank Lieutenant General
Battles/wars Indo-Pakistan War of 1965
Indo-Pakistan War of 1971
Yugoslav Wars
Awards Padma Bhushan
Vir Chakra
Relations Wife - Indira
Daughter- Rekha
Son- Rajesh
Pocket badge of the UNPROFOR.

Lieutenant General Satish Nambiar is an Indian general who achieved international recognition as the first Force Commander and Head of Mission of UNPROFOR, the United Nations Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia, between March 1992 and March 1993. He is the elder brother of UN Under-Secretary-General Vijay Nambiar who has been in the UN since 2006.


Early life

Born in Mumbai on 30 August 1936, Lt Gen Satish Nambiar had his education in Pune and Mumbai. He is an Alumnus of St Xavier's College Mumbai during which he was an Under Officer with the National Cadet Corps. While doing his graduation he joined the 20th regular course of the Indian Military Academy He was a keen sportsman and his passion for sports continued during his military life too.

Military career

He was commissioned on 15 December 1957 from the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun, into the 20th Battalion of the Maratha Light Infantry.

He saw active service in the country’s North-Western and North-Eastern theatres, including counter-insurgency operations in Nagaland, and in the Indo-Pakistan conflicts on the sub-continent: in 1965 in the Sialkot Sector; and in 1971 in the Eastern theatre in the Liberation of Bangla Desh during which he was awarded the Vir Chakra (for gallantry). During the 1962 conflict with the Chinese he was deployed with 20 Maratha LI on the then Cease-Fire Line in Jammu and Kashmir. A graduate of the Australian Staff College (1968), he commanded two battalions of the Maratha Light Infantry Regiment: the 1st (Jangi Paltan) from April 1972 to November 1973, and the 20th (Mechanised) from November 1973 to July 1975.

He was a member of an Indian Army Training team in Iraq from July 1977 to January 1979, and on the faculty of the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in the Nilgiris from April 1980 to January 1982. He attended the Higher Command Course at the College of Combat (now re-designated Army War College) in 1979-80.

He raised and commanded the first mechanised brigade group of the Indian Army, and later commanded the Mechanised Division. He also served as the Military Adviser at the High Commission of India in London from December 1983 to November 1987.

The General Officer served on the General Staff Branch at Divisional Headquarters and in the appointments of Additional Director General and Director General of Military Operations at Army Headquarters. In the latter capacity, he led two defence delegations for discussions with Pakistani counterparts: in the meetings held in April 1991 at New Delhi, he negotiated an agreement (which still holds) on exchange of information between the two countries on conduct of military exercises and aircraft flights in the proximity of the border, as also communications between naval vessels at sea; and in September 1991 at Islamabad, he negotiated an end to hostile action between the two countries on the Line of Control in the Poonch Sector.

Deputed by the Government of India as the first Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations forces UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia initially in the grade of an Assistant Secretary General and later Under Secretary General, he had the distinction of setting up the Mission under most difficult conditions, and commanding it for a year from 3 March 1992 to 2 March 1993. Declining an offer of extension, he returned to the rolls of the Indian Army, and retired as the Deputy Chief of the Army Staff on 31 August 1994. Had the honour of serving as the Colonel of the Mechanised Infantry Regiment of the Indian Army from June 1988 to till retirement in August 1994.

Post Retirement

He has been actively engaged since retirement, in the study and analysis of UN Peacekeeping Operations, national security matters, including defence strategy, and international relations. Invited to speak periodically at various institutions within India and abroad like the National Defence College, the Defence Services Staff College, the Foreign Service Institute, the Jawaharlal Nehru University and other universities, the Army, Navy and Air Force War Colleges, the Royal College of Defence Studies, London and so on, the General Officer is regularly invited to attend, participate and present papers, at various international symposia, seminars, and bilateral and multilateral discussions. Contributes regularly to periodicals and journals on national security, international relations and peace operations. Has authored chapters in international publications on peace operations, international intervention, and just war and genocide.

He was the Director of the United Service Institution of India from 1 July 1996 to 31 December 2008. During a twelve and a half year period as Director, besides fulfilling the basic charter of the 138-year old Institution, he initiated three additional areas of activity: a Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping: a Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research: and a Centre for Strategic Studies and Simulation.

During 2002/2003 he was adviser to the Govt of Sri Lanka on certain aspects of the peace process in that country. On the International Advisory Council of the Folke Bernadotte Academy, Sandoverken, Sweden, he is an inaugural member of the International Advisory Board of the Security Council Report a neutral and independent non-profit organisation dedicated to reporting on the United Nations Security Council; also an inaugural member of the Advisory Council of the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL), an initiative based at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC. Is on the Advisory Board of the Geneva based ICT for Peace Foundation.

On 4 November 2003 the General Officer was nominated by Kofi Annan the then Secretary General of the United Nations, to serve on a 16-member High Level Panel on “Threats, Challenges and Change” that produced a report titled “A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility”. This report formed the basis of the UN Secretary General’s report to the 2005 World Summit. Is member of the following national initiatives: a group engaged in a strategic dialogue sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry with the US-based Aspen Strategy Group; a trilateral USA-Japan-India dialogue; the Indian delegation at the India-EU Round Table; and the India chapter of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP).

Satish Nambiar was in 2002-2003 asked by Ranil Wikremasinghe, the then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, to advise them in an honorary capacity, on the resturcturing of the army and dealing with the contentious issue of the high security zone in north and north east Sri Lanka. He submitted a report in April 2003 which was a subject of debate in the Sri Lankan parliament but could not be pursued further as the talks between the Sri Lankan govenrment and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) broke down. He has not been associated with any delvelopments in Sri Lanka since April 2003.

In 2009 he released his book 'FOR THE HONOUR OF INDIA' which is an account of the Indian contribution to UN Peace Keeping operations worldwide.


Awarded the Vir Chakra for bravery in battle during the Indo-Pak conflict in 1971, the General Officer is also the recipient of the Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM) in 1991 and the Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) in 1994, for distinguished service. In recognition of his sustained efforts in the study and analysis of “National Security Affairs”, the President of India conferred the General Officer with the Padma Bhushan, a high civilian honour on the occasion of Republic Day on 26 January 2009.

Award of Vir Chakra

During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, Major Satish Nambiar commanded a company of 1st Battalion the Maratha Light Infantry which had established a road block in the Eastern Theatre. The enemy assaulted his roadblock in strength on 10 December 1971, supported by intense artillery, mortar and small arms fire. Major Nambiar, in complete disregard for his safety, moved from trench to trench to encourage his men, beating back the assault barely 40 yards from the forward defended localities. Similar assaults by the enemy on the following day were also repulsed. Throughout, Major Satish Nambiar displayed gallantry, determination and leadership of the highest order, and was subsequently awarded the Vir Chakra.

Preceded by
First Appointee
Commander UNPROFOR
1992 – 1993
Succeeded by
Lieutenant General Lars-Eric Wahlgren (Sweden)


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