New Delhi: Army chief General Bipin Rawat says he wants to ensure more jawans become officers and leaders, and this is why he has instituted a Young Leaders Training Wing (YTW) at the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai.
“Many of the jawans joining the force are actually very intelligent. They could not study further because of economic and other reasons,” he said in an exclusive interview to ThePrint. “Hence their focus was to get a job and (they) joined the Army. I strongly feel that if these people are encouraged and trained well, they can make it to the officers level.”
Officers in the Army are those of the rank of lieutenant and above.
Under the new OTA wing, which was launched last week, special training will be given to selected junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) — these ranks don’t qualify as officers — to ensure that they can crack the tough promotion race and rise through the ranks.
The aim is to strengthen their shot at qualifying for pre-commission training through a structured “personality enrichment programme”.
Under the plan, 500 jawans will be selected in two batches for five months of training in junior leadership, where they will also be prepared to face the stringent Services Selection Board (SSB), which selects aspirants for commissioning as officers.
The Army chief said the move will benefit the force on two fronts. “We will get more officers and there will be a further promotion opportunity for JCOs and NCOs,” he added.
‘Shortage of officers helps Army’
Asked about the shortage of officers — at any point, the Army is 7,000-8,000 short of the requisite officer strength — Rawat said it actually “helps the rest”.
“Promotion within the Army is very tough. This shortage is actually helpful because otherwise the promotion will become even tougher,” he added. “The Army is managing very well.”
Currently, there are three routes for JCOs and NCOs to become commissioned officers — through the ACC (Army Cadet College) wing, and the SCO (special commission officers) and PC-SL (permanent commission, special list) route.
SSB interviews and tests, which follow each of these three options, have a success rate of less than 10 per cent.
Speaking about the new OTA course, the Army chief said the selected personnel will also undergo training in communication skills, soft skills and decision-making ability, among other things.
“We really want to train the selected personnel and give them a good shot at clearing the SSB,” Gen Rawat added.
The Army chief said there was a need for leaders who lead by example, emerge from the rank and file and are compassionate and decisive.
“Future battlefields will be affected by cyber warfare and there may be communication failures, but not command failures. That’s why we need leaders at all levels, leaders who can make decisions under challenging conditions,” he said.
“Such leaders need to bring victory to their respective unit or sub-unit and make history for the Indian Army, as there are no runners-up in war.”
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.