Arjun Katoch was commissioned into the Parachute Regiment of the Indian Army in 1967 and took voluntary retirement in the rank of Colonel in 1991. He commanded a Special Forces battalion in The Indian Peace Keeping Force In Sri Lanka and has extensive combat and counter insurgency experience. He has been decorated for gallantry by the President of India.
He joined the UN in 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia in what is now the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and worked with them till he retired in Dec 2009 in Somalia, Armenia and the Great Lakes Region of Africa as well as the OCHA Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
From 2000 - 2009 he was Chief of the Field Co-ordination Support Section of OCHA Geneva responsible for managing the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and the International Search and Advisory Group (INSARAG). In this capacity he was responsible to ensure immediate international emergency response to over 140 disasters worldwide and has deployed to the field in almost all major international disasters in the last 15 years including the Indian Ocean tsunami, Pakistan Earthquake and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.
During this period he also led the process for the establishment of internationally agreed operational standards for international urban search and rescue teams culminating in the current INSARAG Classification system for international USAR teams. From 2007 - 2009 he also had the additional responsibility of being the Chief of OCHA's Civil - Military Coordination Section and therefore responsible for dealing with international military- humanitarian issues.
After retirement from the UN since Jan 2010, he resides in New Delhi, India and is a Disaster Management Advisor working with various Governments and international Agencies. In 2011 he was the Team Leader of the UNDAC team responding to Japan after the tsunami, earthquake and Fukushima- Daichii nuclear accident. He is presently Mentor to the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar on urban search and rescue issues.
He has been published in numerous national and international journals and is regularly invited as a speaker or resource person on international disaster response issues in various fora worldwide including at Harvard University and the Royal Society of Medicine, London.