Army mulls raising retirement age for non-combat troops

The plan is to raise the retirement age gradually – from 42 years to 50 years for the non-combatants and subsequently raising the upper ceiling to 54 and 58 years. Photo/PTI

The retirement age for nearly three lakh soldiers may be increased by up to 16 years, if the government finds merit in a new Indian Army proposal to allow a section of the non-combatants to continue in their service till 58 years of age.

The proposal mooted by Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat few months ago is currently doing the rounds among the Army commanders, who have been asked to share their views.

This was the second round of internal examination of the “age enhancement study” launched by the Adjutant General of the Indian Army earlier this year as the responses received in the first round of scrutiny weren't appropriate, defence ministry sources told DH.

While the government has already enhanced the retirement age of the soldiers across the board by two years, the current exercise aims to find out those people within the 12 lakh strong Indian Army, who can continue in the services in their fifties because of their skills.

Take the example of nursing assistants or radiographers or pathology laboratory technicians in the Army hospitals or specialised mechanics in the base repair depots.

Due to the early retirement policy, such men had to quit the service in their forties and ended up in the private establishments, while the army spends money in training them. The military not only loses the skilled workforce and spends more money in training the new recruits.

Even in a fighting unit, there could be odd men like the barber or cook who can serve till 58 years. The men over 50 years may not be posted in harsh terrain like Leh but can be accommodated in the units in the plains.

Sources said a thorough analysis of the troops in accordance with their skills may lead to a situation in which nearly 30-40% of the troops could be retained in the service beyond 42 years. The plan is to raise the retirement age gradually – from 42 years to 50 years for the non-combatants and subsequently raising the upper ceiling to 54 and 58 years.

However, during the first round of scrutiny, the senior officers found only 10% of men capable of continuing in their fifties. Not satisfied, the Army headquarters asked the commands and commanding officers of other specialised branches to have a relook.

 As on July 2019, the Indian Army had a sanctioned strength of 12,23381 personnel below officers rank, against which there was a shortfall of 38235 men.

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