Armed forces short of 13,380 officers: Antony

October 20th, 2008 - 11:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) The armed forces are short of a staggering 13,380 officers - 20 percent of the sanctioned strength - largely because of “changes in the socio-economic environment” and the government has taken a slew of measures to bridge the gap, parliament was told Monday.Of this, the Indian Army is short of 11,119 officers, the Indian Navy of 1,359 officers and the Indian Air Force of 1,352 officers, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in a written answer in the Lok Sabha.

The army, navy and air force have a respective sanctioned strength of 46,614, 8,945 and 12,120 officers.

Against this, they have a positioned strength of 35,495, 7,586 and 10,768 officers respectively, the minister said.

“There is no significant shortage of personnel below officers rank (PBOR) in the armed forces,” Antony added.

“The shortage of officers in the three Services is largely attributable to changes in the socio-economic environment and the resultant change in career preferences, better employment opportunities in other sectors, tough selection procedures and service conditions required for the armed forces,” the minister pointed out.

Several proposals to reduce shortage of officers relating to reduction in the intake of permanent commissioned officers, increase in short service commissioned (SSC) officers and augmentation of the selection and training infrastructure have been approved in principle by the government, the minister said.

The recent implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission “with substantial improvement in the pay structure of officers will also go a long way in making the services more attractive,” Antony added.

This apart, a number of steps have been taken to motivate officers to continue in service and to attract talented youth to join the defence forces.

All officers, including those with short service commissions, have been made eligible to hold the substantive rank of captain, major and lieutenant colonel and equivalents after two, six and 13 years of reckonable service respectively, the minister said.

The government had also approved the implementation of the second phase the A.V. Singh Committee recommendations to create/upgrade 1,896 additional posts in the ranks of colonel, brigadier, major general and lieutenant general and their equivalents, Antony pointed out.

“Besides, the armed forces have undertaken a sustained image projection and publicity campaign to create awareness among the youth on the advantages of taking up a challenging and satisfying career.

“Candidate-friendly recruitment procedures to attract more number of candidates and a focused publicity drive in various institutions to attract potential candidates have been undertaken,” the minister said.

“Awareness campaigns, participation in career fairs and exhibitions, advertisements in the print and electronic media and motivational lectures in schools, colleges are also some of the other measures in this direction,” Antony added.

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