Lt. Gen. S.K. Jetley belongs to the batch of 1956 at Cotton’s, where initially he belonged to Pope House before being shifted to Elphick upon its formation in 1955-56. Soon after his Senior Cambridge, Lt. Gen. Jetley joined the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla and, thereafter, the Indian Military Academy (IMA). He graduated in December 1960 with flying colours from the IMA, winning the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ for being the Best All Round Cadet as well as the gold medal for standing first in order of merit. Lt. Gen. Jetley was also a ‘Blue’ in swimming and water polo, something he credits to the frequent ‘plunge baths’ he took in the school swimming pool!
Lt. Gen. Jetley commenced his career being commissioned into the Central India Horse (CIH), the armoured corps unit that came into being as the 21st King George’s Own CIH during the mutiny of 1857 and sports the motto ’Fortune favours the brave’. He has attended the Tank Technology Course at the Voroshilov Armoured Troops Academy, Moscow in 1966 and has also undergone the Command, Staff, Operational and Tactical Course for Senior Officers at the Frunze Military Academy, Moscow.
During his extraordinary career, Lt. Gen. Jetley has held various significant command, staff and instructional appointments. His command assignments are indeed a soldier’s dream. He commanded the CIH between 1978 and 1980, a Mountain Brigade in Arunachal Pradesh, an independent Armoured Brigade in the Western Sector, an armoured division as well as the elite Strike Corps. A highly decorated officer, Lt. Gen. Jetley was awarded the Sena Medal (SM) for gallantry in the Indo-Pak operations in the Western Sector in 1971. He was later awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) for distinguished service of the highest order while commanding the Mountain Brigade in the North East and, ultimately, was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) for rendering distinguished services of the most exceptional order.
Lt. Gen. Jetley’s staff assignments include a stint at the Military Operations Directorate, Army Headquarters; as well as appointments as Brigadier General (Staff) of a strike corps, Deputy Military Secretary and Major General (Operational Logistics) at the Command Headquarters. Lt. Gen. Jetley has served as Instructor at the Armoured Corps Centre as well as served as a director at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, from where he made several trips to Cotton’s.
During his career of almost four decades, Lt. Gen. Jetley has seen operational experience both as a Cavalry Officer as well as an Infantry Commander. As Lieutenant General, he commanded the NDA, training cadets of the Army, Navy and the Air Force and was later the Commandant of the College of Combat, Military Headquarters of War (MHOW) (now known as ‘War College’) between 17 October 1996 and 6 February 1999. The College of Combat trains and prepares Captains through Major Generals for war. Lt. Gen. Jetley handed over charge as Commandant, College of Combat to Lt. Gen. V. K. Kapoor, another OC (1958).
Lt. Gen. Jetley capped a splendid career in the Army retiring as the Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (Training and Coordination) at the Army Headquarters, New Delhi. At the time of his retirement in May 2000 he was the senior-most serving armoured corps officer in the army. While serving as Dy. COAS, Lt. Gen. Jetley visited Bhutan for a dialogue with King Jigme and the Chief of the Royal Bhutan Army in connection with the launch of a joint Indo-Bhutan military operation against the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).
From among his many school friends, Lt. Gen. Jetley has stayed in contact with Farook Sulaiman, a businessman in Bangalore and Bantwal, who left the Indian Navy to settle in Goa. He also fondly remembers his classmate Chandy who joined the Navy and later became an aviator, flying for the Steel Authority of India, before his death in a tragic air crash. Lt. Gen. Jetley is now retired and lives in New Delhi (Noida) and is on the Board of Hindustan Construction Company Ltd. He is married to Mrs. Kiran Jetley and they have two married daughters and a son. Lt. Gen. Jetley’s father too was a soldier who retired from the Indian Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1970.