Now common citizens can join Indian Army as officers and soldiers for a three-year short service that will be billed as ‘Tour of Duty’. Due to reduction in pay and gratuity payouts, the proposal would be of immense financial benefit to the Army. Post approval of the proposal, it will be voluntary in nature and there will be no dilution in the selection criteria.
What is ‘Tour of Duty’ Proposal?
This proposal is a shift from the concept of permanent service in the Indian Armed Forces towards “internship” or Temporary service experience that will last for three years. According to the official drafts “This proposal taps into the feeling of the youth to experience military life for a temporary duration.”
Why Indian Army Proposed ‘Tour of Duty’
Over the past 5 year, the defence budget has grown by 68 percent. However, the salaries of armed forces have increased by 75 per cent. But above all, the pensions have grown by a whopping 146 percent. At present, India’s defence pension budget is $16 billion, which is almost double the defence spending of Pakistan; which is $10 billion.
For an officer, who is released after 10 years of services, nearly Rs 5.12 crore is spent on pre-commission training, pay/allowances, gratuity, severance package, leave encashment, and other costs. However, if the officer is released after 14 years, this sum turns to nearly INR 6.83 crore. Similarly, a Sepoy with 17 years of tenure costs INR 11.5 crore.
Now, comparing this with the ‘Tour of Duty, an officer who will be released after three years will cost around INR 85 lakh.
This will offer a financial benefit to the Army for Officers as well as Soldiers employed on ToD for three years.
How to Join Indian Army as Tour of Duty?
If the proposal gets approved, initially 100 officers and 1,000 men will be considered for recruitment as part of test bedding of the project.
Criteria for Tour of Duty
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, a source said.
Talking about age criteria, Indian Army has not notified the age criteria for ‘Tour of Duty’ however, said that well-trained, disciplined youngsters exiting the force after one-year of training and three years of ToD at an age of 26/27, with a good amount of money in their pockets but no pension and other benefits, will be lapped up the private and public sectors for a fruitful second career.
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.
An officer or soldier after completing one year of training and three years of ToD is likely to display visible improvement in self-confidence, teamwork, responsibility, initiative, stress management, innovation and social skills.
Challenges with Tour of Duty
There are two major challenges with ‘Tour of Duty”.
- The selection of suitable volunteers from the civil environment for this type of limited engagement who would take much longer to motivate than train.
- Training them for critical front-line combat deployments
Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said, “This is an ideal opportunity for those individuals who do not want to make defence services their permanent vocation, but still want to experience the thrill and adventure of the military profession and the glamour of donning the uniform.”
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.