KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Sandhurst-trained Gen Datuk Zulkifeli Mohd Zin was officially installed as the 23rd army chief yesterday.
With the appointment Zulkifeli, who turns 56 on June 14, was also promoted from lieutenant-general to a four-star general by Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at a ceremony at Wisma Pertahanan in Jalan Padang Tembak.
Zulkifeli succeeds Gen Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin who has retired.
Zahid said he was confident that Zulkifeli would help realise the ministry's aspirations of improving the welfare of soldiers, including their housing and renumeration.
He also announced the appointment of Malaysian National Defence University vice-chancellor Lt-Gen Datuk Pahlawan Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, a keen hunter and who turns 52 on Nov 30, as the new deputy army chief.
Zulkifli's place is taken over by Joint Force commander Lt-Gen Datuk Wira Allatif Mohd Noor, who retains the same rank, while Allatif's post has been assumed by Rear-Admiral Datuk Jamil Osman.
Jamil, who is a Royal Malaysian Navy Super Lynx helicopter pilot and who was previously the Joint Force headquarters chief of staff, has been promoted to a three-star vice-admiral.
Zulkifeli, born in Pasir Mas, Kelantan, graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Britain in 1974 and was commissioned into the Royal Malay Regiment as an infantry officer.
He rose through the ranks, becoming a brigadier-general as chief of the Reserve Service Division in 2002, then as a major-general to head the International Observer Mission team in the troubled region of Mindanao, the Philippines in 2004.
He was promoted to lieutenant-general to become Army Field Command chief in 2007 and then as deputy army chief a year later.
Zahid also announced that his forthcoming visit to the United States would include a call on US Defence Secretary Robert Gates.
"Among the issues that will be discussed are the deployment of a medical team to assist the Nato peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan, upgrading Malaysia's status as an observer to a participant in the annual Cobra Gold defence exercise in Thailand, manpower training, military operations and technical support for the assembly and manufacture of various defence equipment.
"I will also meet with the US captains of defence industries to obtain better know-how on developing this potential in our region," he said.
He will later attend the Shangri-La dialogue to discuss the establishment of a facility and task force in Malaysia to manage the food programme for disaster relief operations.