NEW DELHI: Aiming to bring manpower related reforms in the armed forces, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), has initiated proposals to increase the retirement age of officers and also cut down the pension of officers opting for Pre Mature Retirement (PMR).
The DMA has proposed to increase the age of retirement of Colonels from the existing 54 to 57, for Brigadiers from 56 to 58 and for Major Generals from 58 to 59. The same is applicable to equivalent ranks in other Services.
The letter issued by the Office of Secretary DMA dated October 29 read, “It is proposed that a draft Government sanction Letter (GSL) may be kindly processed for perusal by Secretary DMA by November 10.”
The age of retirement of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and Other Ranks in Logistics, Technical and Medical branches is also proposed to be increased to 57 years.
The DMA has also decided to review the pension entitlements in order to stop loss of specialists and super specialists who were trained for high skill jobs in the services, but left it to work in other sectors.
This is in addition to a large number of personnel getting boarded out due to lesser vacancies and service related restrictions. The review of the pension entitlement is because “such loss of high-skilled manpower results in void in the services skill matrix and is counter productive to the armed forces,” the letter said.
The proposed pension review will have four slabs for PMR of personnel.
For 20-25 years of service - 50 per cent of entitled pension; for 26-30 years of service - 60 per cent of entitled pension, for 31-35 years of service - 75 per cent of entitled pension and full pension for 35 years and above service.
“There will be no change of pension entitlements of battle casualties,” the letter said.
While one of the reasons is said to decrease the pension bill, veterans feel it will be counter-productive for the goal of keeping the age profile young.
“This proposal will force unwilling officers and men to serve which will stop the mobility within the force as well,” said a serving officer who wished to be anonymous.
“People leave for various reasons which include losing promotion, unwillingness to serve under juniors, family requirements and to leave at the right time to search for other avenues.” he added.
All those who wish to continue had the option of taking re-employment so only willing were serving till now. "Also this will raise number of the Low Medical Category" said a veteran to The New Indian Express.
However, another serving officer clarified that, “the proposal with regard to JCOs/OR and their equivalents in the three services, affects only personnel from services and not the combat arms.” He said that this proposal once approved will benefit the organisation and meet individual aspirations.
Adding further the officer said, “The organisation invests time and resources on training technicians to make them capable of undertaking specialised tasks. However, due to the current terms of engagement, they come up for retirement while their professional skill is at it’s peak. Effort is to retain expertise while giving benefit to the individual.”
“There are certain individuals who have technical expertise only in specific weapon systems or ammunition but there is dearth of employment opportunities outside. Either due to age limit or service limitations, the individuals could not be retained and their services not utilised by the organisation. Extension of service will not only benefit the organsiation but also provide them with adequate employment opportunities” the officer said.
“As life expectancy and health infrastructure have improved over time it will give an opportunity to retain trained manpower over extended period.” said the officer.