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Indian Army Proposes Two-Year ‘Tour of Duty’ for Citizens

Staff Correspondent

The Indian Army has proposed a three-year voluntary short service billed as ‘Tour of Duty’ for common citizens, primarily aimed to save massive recruitment and training costs due to reduction in pay and gratuity pay outs and make up for the shortage in the lower and middle-level officer ranks. There will however be no dilution in the selection criteria.

The proposal is a shift from the concept of permanent service in the armed forces towards “internship” or temporary experience for three years. “This proposal meets the need of the youth to experience military life for a temporary duration,” said the draft. The draft said the defence budget has grown by 68 per cent in the past five years, with the salary outgo growing by 75 per cent, pensions by a whopping 146 per cent. “India’s defence pension budget is $16 billion, nearly double the total defence spending of Pakistan, which is $10 billion,” the draft said.

“The cumulative cost of pre-commission training, pay/allowances, gratuity, severance package, leave encashment, and other costs is nearly Rs 5.12 crore on an officer if he/she is released after 10 years, and Rs 6.83 crore if released after 14 years,” it said. However the cost for those released after three years of Tour on Duty (ToD) would be around Rs 85 lakh. It calculated that the financial benefit to the Army will save Rs 11.5 crore for a soldier on three-year ToD as against a Sepoy with 17 years of service. “Thus saving for only 1000 jawans could be Rs 11,000 crore, which could then be utilized for the much-needed modernization,” it said. The draft, however, said that in case an officer or a soldier becomes a battle casualty, all benefits could be extended to them or their next of kin.

Sources also said the Army considering inducting personnel from the paramilitary forces and central armed police forces for a short duration of up to seven years. “Being examined by top commanders of the Army, if approved, initially 100 officers and 1,000 men are being considered for recruitment as part of the test bedding,” Army spokesperson Col Aman Anand as saying.

Sources said age and fitness level will be among the key criteria for recruitment for the ‘Tour of Duty (ToD) or ‘Three Years Short Service’ scheme. There is a “resurgence of nationalism and patriotism” in the country and the proposal attempts to tap the feelings of youth who do not want to join the Army as a profession but wish to experience the military life for a temporary duration. At present, the Army recruits young people under the Short Service Commission for an initial tenure of 10 years which is extendable up to 14 years. According to the proposal, the people to be recruited under the ToD will be eligible to be deployed as combatants in key forward locations and there will be no restrictions in their roles.