New Delhi: The Army headquarters is considering two different models for recruitment in the future — one under which youth can voluntarily serve in the Army for a temporary period of three years, and the other where they are recruited by Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), trained and posted in the Army for about seven years, before being transferred back.
ThePrint has learnt that the recruitment models are being considered to attract more youth to join the Army, fill up officers’ vacancies, and reduce burgeoning defence pensions, which make up nearly 30 per cent of the defence budget and ballooned after the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme came into effect.
The first model, of three years’ service, is called ‘Tour of Duty’, while the other is called ‘Inverse Induction’. The latter model is based on a 2019 discussion document by the think-tank Takshashila Institution, authored by Lt Gen. Prakash Menon (retd), a former military advisor to the National Security Advisor, and Pranay Kotasthane.
Currently, the only option apart from regular permanent commission into the armed forces is the short service commission, in which officers are recruited for a period of 14 years. A large number of short service commission officers eventually opt for permanent commission, subject to eligibility.
Tour of Duty
According to Army sources, the Tour of Duty will be “three years’ short service”, whose pilot project will be for both officers and jawans, and for a limited number of vacancies.
The idea is expected to be tested on around 100 officers and 1,000 jawans in the first go, sources said. They will be trained for the first year of the three-year period.
If approved by the government, the Navy and the Air Force could also be asked to implement it.
A senior Army officer told ThePrint that the idea is to employ youth and let them experience military life for three years.
“This will attract youth to join the armed forces, because it will not only give them a good experience of serving for a limited duration, but also a good remuneration, and they will be relieved with a lump-sum amount, aside from other perks and benefits which come with the service,” the officer said.
Past experiences from the 1999 Kargil conflict as well as the defence forces of other countries, such as Israel, show that three years is an adequate period, the officer said.
“In the Kargil conflict, officers and jawans with less than three years of service had shown an exemplary performance,” the officer said.
It can be a “lucrative” option because apart from gaining military experience for a limited period, personnel will be free to pursue another career after three years.
“Even major corporates would welcome young, military-trained professionals instead of college freshers, and these professionals would have an edge over others while getting into another career, or even in institutions offering a MBA degree because of the work experience they will gain,” the officer added.
Sources said while opting for this model will be voluntary, the government could add additional perks for those who opt for it, such as being given preference in post-graduate courses or employment in security or administrative jobs in the government sector.
In case of a battle casualty, Tour of Duty personnel would be given the same benefits as regular officers, such as liberalised family pension, ECHS facility, gratuity, and ex-servicemen status.
If implemented, the Tour of Duty model would not only bring an “exponential” reduction in defence pensions, but could make for a more attractive career option than SSC, sources said.
“Moreover, the job would offer attractive pay and allowances as compared to what fresh graduates are offered in other jobs,” the officer quoted above said.
Another source said the budget saved in this way could be used in the modernisation of the armed forces.
The proposal states that the cumulative approximate cost of pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, proposed severance packages, leave encasement and other costs is nearly Rs 5.12 crore and Rs 6.83 crore respectively on a SSC officer after his retirement from service after 10 and 14 years.
It adds that the overall cost goes up even further as 50-60 per cent of the SSC officers opt for Permanent Commission and continue in service till 54 years and also get pension benefits on retirement.
“Similar costs for those released after a three-year ToD is just Rs 80-85 lakh,” the officer said.
In case of jawans, that the prospective lifetime savings of just one jawan is Rs 11.5 crore, it estimates. It says the savings for only 1000 jawans could be Rs 11,000 crore, which could be pushed into the modernisation of the Army.
The Inverse Induction model will look at bringing personnel recruited by CAPFs into the armed forces’ fold for about seven years, before they go back to their respective recruiting organisations.
There is an existing proposal that retired armed forces personnel be recruited by the CAPFs. But the model under consideration would flip things around.
A second senior Army officer said the Inverse Induction model will not only save on defence pensions, but will also help in training personnel better.
“Their tenure in the armed forces will provide the CAPFs with trained, battle-hardened personnel. They can also be recruited by other understaffed departments like Home Guards, Civil Defence Corps, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), and other security agencies,” this officer said.
The Takshashila Institution’s 2019 discussion document had stated that if, over time, 10 per cent of the total strength of Indian armed forces, meaning about 1.2 lakh personnel, are brought in through the Inverse Induction method, the pension bill reduction in year 15 would be Rs 6,468 crore.
“In year 16, the savings will increase to Rs 6,662 crore. In this way, the pension expenditure saved every year will keep rising,” the document stated.