Lieutenant General PC Bhardwaj was commissioned into First Battalion the Parachute Regiment on 14 Jun 1970. A Special Operations specialist, he was the first person from the Indian Army to undergo the rigorous Commando Divers Course at Naval Diving School. He excelled on the course, qualifying as an instructor. He has also attended the prestigious Special Forces Officers Course at Fort Bragg, USA doing well again and earning an instructor rating.
As a 2Lt in the 1971 war, he was awarded the Vir Chakra for conspicuous bravery. He commanded his parent unit, 1 PARA (Cdo) in CI Ops in the East and was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for a daring rescue operation. He commanded a Mountain Brigade in Nagaland and also the elite Parachute Brigade. As a Major General he commanded Counter Insurgency Force Delta in Doda/Kishtwar and thereafter was appointed as the General Officer Commanding Delhi Area, where he was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal for distinguished service. The General Officer commanded 14 Corps, responsible for the vast areas of Ladakh and the Siachin Glacier before assuming command of Northern Command on 01 March 2008. For his distinguished service rendered, he was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal on 26 Jan 2009, making him the most decorated soldier in the Indian Army.
Lt Gen Bhardwaj has served as an Instructor at Infantry School Mhow and at the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School. He has been a Brigade Major of an Infantry Brigade and Deputy Director General at the Directorate General of Military Operations, Army Headquarters. He was also served as Defence Attache at the Embassy of India in Myanmar from 1994 to 1997.