Army could take 20 years to bridge officer shortage

Army could take 20 years to bridge officer shortage


In an internal study, the army has said the projection was conditional and the vacancies could be filled up in two decades only if training capacities in the academies are increased and the exit rate of officers wanting to retire prematurely is kept low.

On the basis of the study, the army headquarters has suggested to the commanders that the intake of recruits at the Dehradun-based Indian Military Academy (IMA) and the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai be increased by improving training capacities of the two institutes, an officer said.

The Commanders have been discussing the issue of officer shortage for quite sometime now and it was again debated at the recently concluded conference of senior offices, he said.

The 1.2-million strong army has a sanctioned strength of over 46,000 officers.
The data, compiled through a study, showed that army faced the prospect of an average of 1,500 premature retirements (PMRs) of officers every year.

The current annual average number of officers commissioned in the army from its academies stood at 1,700, around 300 less than the required average number of nearly 2,000 recruits.

At present, the IMA has a capacity to train 950 permanent commission officers per year and the OTA about 500 short service commission officers. The facilities at the two academies could be stretched to allow IMA accommodate 1,100 cadets and OTA 600 cadets a year.

"Army Commanders have been told that IMA and OTA need to improve capacities such as classrooms, accommodation, number of trainers, training facilities and firing range, and increase intake," the officer said.

Accordingly, if capacities were increased at the two academies to allow higher intake of 1,450 cadets in IMA and 650 in OTA, additional number of officers commissioned every year would increase by another 400.

"Even so, the number of prospective PMRs will have to remain below existing 1,500 officers," he said.

For increasing capacities, the academies need a three-year lead time. "Hence the 20-year crystal gazing," he added.

In the last one year, the government has acted on some of the issues such as low salary packages and few career progression avenues for officers.

The government implemented the Sixth Pay Commission recommendation substantially increasing their pay package and gave a go-ahead for Ajai Vikram Singh Committee recommendation to increase the number of Colonels, Brigadiers, Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals.

The proposal to set up a second OTA at Gaya in Bihar too was approved so as to increase the number of Short Service Commission officer recruits.

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