Monday, 18 October 2021

Continue to struggle with the scarcity of officers in the Armed Forces

Continue to struggle with the scarcity of officers in the Armed Forces

The around 13 lakh strong armed forces have a shortage of as many as 9,712 officers and over one lakh soldiers, airmen, and sailors, as per the latest figures tabled in Parliament on Monday.

The Army has a shortage of 7,912 officers and 90,640 soldiers, while the figures for the Navy are 1,190 officers and 11,927 sailors. The IAF, in turn, has a lack of 610 officers and 7,104 airmen, said junior defense minister Ajay Bhatt, in a written answer in Rajya Sabha.

He said.

"The government has number of steps to reduce shortages of officer. These include assist image projection, participation in career fairs and exhibitions, and publicity campaigns to create awareness among youth on the advantages of taking up a challenging and satisfying career,"

He added.

"Further, the government has taken various steps to make jobs in the armed forces attractive, including improvement in promotion prospects, and to fill up vacancies," 

Continue to struggle with the scarcity of officers in the Armed Forces 1getty image

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Almost the entire shortage of officers is alarmingly in the "fighting ranks" of the three Services. In the Army, for instance, these ranks are Lt-Colonel, Major, Captain, and Lieutenant, who lead troops into battle.

Though the salaries of military officers have substantially gone up after the 6th and 7th Central Pay Commissions, youngsters still find them unsatisfactory compared to the corporate sector, especially for a life that is considered challenging and risky.

The flawed promotional method in the steeply-pyramidal structures of the armed forces and frequent transfers that disrupt family life and children's education are the other reasons that dissuade youngsters with "officer-like qualities (OLQs)" from queuing up. Lack of adequate officer training capacity in the armed forces is, of course, another factor.

The government is yet to approve the long-pending package to make the short-service commission more attractive for bright youngsters future, with measures ranging from allow paid study leave to a golden handshake at the end of the tenures of 10 to 14 years, despite the continuing scarcity of officers and urgent need for cadre restructuring.

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