NEW DELHI: In an attempt to maintain a ‘younger army’, the Narendra Modi government has decided to create 1,091 additional vacancies in the Army establishments, to allow for faster promotion.
Though the Kargil Review Committee report (2000) on ageing commanding officers had set off alarm bells in South Block, the previous Congress-led UPA government failed to deliver on the panel’s recommendations. The panel found the Indian Army to be rather aged compared to armies of other countries such as Israel, the US, Russia and Pakistan.
On the basis of the Kargil Review Committee report, a panel headed by former defence secretary Ajai Vikram Singh was set up in 2004 to look into the issue of army promotion policy. It suggested that short-term deputation to other forces be allowed, and termed it as the “peel off” factor to mitigate stagnation at the middle level.
Except the National Security Guards and Assam Rifles, no efforts were made by the UPA government to provide deputation in other para-military forces, despite several representations by the Army. Though the vacancies were approved on the basis of the Singh panel recommendations, the Ministry of Defence never allowed them to be released.
Officers believe that the absence of the ‘peel off’ policy created stagnation and resentment in the Army, which ultimately led to litigations in court.
But now, after getting the go-ahead from the Ministry of Defence, the Army Headquarters has released a list of 1,091 vacancies. Subsequently, an order was issued from the Office of the Directorate of Staff Duties (DGSD) to all commands, units and establishments asking them to identify requirements in the select ranks from colonel to lieutenant generals for equal distribution of approved vacancies.
“A proposal for release of additional select ranks due to peel factor not fructifying has been approved. A Board of Officers has been convened to identify the requirements at various units, headquarters and establishments of the Indian army,” the DGSD instructions said. While creating these additional vacancies, it was also instructed that creation of appointments should not result in duplication of duties and should have operation justification. These vacancies will be at peace stations as well war establishments.
According to sources, the Singh panel had observed that a colonel should be of the age 36 to 37 years, while brigadiers should be 44 to 45 years old. As of today, personnel selected as commanding officers, brigadier and major generals have to wait for months to “pick up” their rank as the Army has no system of promoting anyone till a vacancy arises. And the army had found that it could conform to the recommendations only by increasing the number of vacancies by reducing tenures.
“Despite being given an in-principal approval by the defence ministry, the previous government could not pay heed to this important issue. Due to this, the Army failed to maintain a younger profile of its officers and satisfaction level in the officer cadre. It even resulted in litigation dragging the army to the court,” said an officer.
Rank And File
■ In 2006, a committee found the Indian Army to be rather aged as compared to armies of Israel, US, Russia and Pakistan
■ An order was issued to all units, commands and establishments to identify select ranks for equal distribution of vacancies
■ A colonel should be aged 36-37, a brigadier should be 44-45 years old