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Kargil Vijay Diwas: Major, Captain Posts Vacant in Army, Navy, Air Force; Why Indian Armed Forces Are Seeing Shortfall Of Over 11,000 Officers
In the Army, the vacancies are -- 2,094 (for Major rank) and 4,734 (for Captain rank), according to the data shared in his response.
New Delhi: As per the official data released by the Defence Ministry, the Indian Armed Forces are facing a shortage of over 11,000 officers, with Major and Captain posts being vacant in the Indian Army, Navy, and Air Force. The Ministry in its official statement said that the military is facing a significant dearth of young officers in its ranks – 11,266 to be precise. This is much more than the shortfall of 9,797 that was reported in 2022.
The shortfall, according to Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt is affecting all three services – the Army, Navy, and the Air Force and is mainly at the Major and Captain-level ranks and their equivalents in the other branches. However, he informed that the available strength is “sufficient” to meet the current operational requirements.
Bhatt, while sharing details on the number of vacancies in all three branches of the armed forces at present, rank-wise. In the Army, the vacancies are — 2,094 (for Major rank) and 4,734 (for Captain rank), according to the data shared in his response. In the Navy, the figures are – 2,617 (for Lt Commander and below ranks), while in the Air Force, the figures are — 881 (for Squadron Leader rank) and 940 for (Flight Lieutenant rank).
But it’s not just about officers at the major and captain level. The minister has also revealed that there’s a shortage of medical staff for the military. Elaborating further, he said that the Army, Navy and the Air Force were short of 630 doctors, 73 dentists and 701 nurses.
The Army had the most vacancies – 598 doctors, 56 dentists and 528 nurses. In comparison, the Navy was short of 20 doctors, 11 dentists and 86 nurses, while the Air Force was short of 12 doctors, six dentists and 87 nurses.
Why the shortage?
On the specific reasons for the acute shortage of officers at the mid-level ranks in the Army along with the measures undertaken to address the issue, the minister said the shortage can be attributed to “low intake during COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Defence also pointed out that the shortage of officers is further exacerbated by reduced recruitment in auxiliary cadres such as the ‘Short Service Commission’ (SSC). Notably, the recruitment of officers in the defence forces is carried out through various channels. One of the recruitment pathways for officers in the defence forces is through SSC, where cadets undergo an 11-month training program to become officers and serve for a predetermined period of 10 to 14 years.
Lt General Rameshwar Yadav explained to Financial Express, “Harsh service conditions and everyday risk to life in the line of duty, pay and perks in the military and avenues for promotion are not as attractive as is the case with civil services and the third thing is the very attractive pay and package available in the corporate sector; these are the main reasons behind the shortage of officers.”
Only 57 Women Cadets were Recruited through NDA Exam conducted by UPSC
As per the official data, since the year 2022, a total of 57 women cadets have been enlisted through the NDA. Among the states, Haryana takes the lead in the number of NDA women cadets. According to the Defence Ministry, all 57 vacancies for women cadets in the NDA have been completely filled. Notably, the highest number of 19 female cadets come from Haryana, closely followed by Uttar Pradesh with 12. Additionally, three women cadets each have been recruited from Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, and Punjab, while two each have been selected from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. In total, four women cadets from Kerala were recruited into the Army through the NDA, although one of them has subsequently resigned.
Will it impact the operational readiness?
Asked whether the shortage of officers impacts the operational readiness and effectiveness of Army units, Bhatt said, “The available strength is sufficient to meet current operational requirements. The operational readiness and effectiveness of Army units is being maintained with organisational resources”.
To another query on whether any alternative strategies like employment of officers to such posts are being considered to address the shortage apart from reducing HQ postings, he said, “No proposal has been received in this Ministry”.
What is being done to plug the gap?
Recognising the shortages in officers, the Defence Ministry has said that they are considering to make the “Short Service Entry More Attractive”. However, no additional clarification was given on how this would be done.
Earlier, there were reports that the Army was planning to reduce the posting of staff officers at various headquarters to overcome their shortage in units. Staff appointments are a precursor to subsequent command appointments as officers climb the ranks.
The minister, however, clarified that they had not received any proposal on the same and furthermore, there wasn’t any mention of re-employment of officers to the vacant posts.
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