Context: The Army has reportedly come up with a proposal to take in civilians for a ‘three-year Tour of Duty (ToD)’ or ‘internship’ to serve as officers and soldiers. 

More about the news:

  • This voluntary programme will start on a trial basis, with a few vacancies initially, and then more people will be accommodated. 
  • 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. 

About the proposal:

  • This scheme is for those who did not want a full career in the Army but still wanted to put on the uniform. 
  • 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,. 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.
  • The proposal suggests several measures to incentivise this scheme like a tax-free income for three years and a token lump sum at the end of three years of about ₹5-6 lakh for officers and ₹2-3 lakh for ORs (Other Ranks).
  • The proposal states that as per an initial survey, corporates favour individuals who have been trained by the military at 26 or 27 years of age after ToD. 
  • The entry criteria for candidates for the internship will remain the same, and will not be relaxed.
  • Age and fitness level will be among the key criteria for recruitment under the 'Tour of Duty (ToD) or 'Three Years Short Service' scheme.
  • There will be no requirement of attractive severance packages, resettlement courses, professional encashment training leave, ex-Servicemen status, ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) for the ToD officers and other ranks.
  • 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.

Need for the scheme: Army’s increasing cost on pay and pension and slow modernization

  • The Army’s pay and pension bill has been increasing steeply over the years, accounting for 60% of its budget allocation. 
  • The army has the biggest share of the annual defence budget -- Rs 1.71 lakh crore out of the total Rs 3.18 lakh crore.
  • But 83% of its outlay is meant for revenue expenditure that is for day-to-day running costs and salaries and merely 17% is left for modernisation.
  • The armed forces’ slow modernisation, mainly due to the financial crunch, is dangerous for the country’s national security. With a poor tooth-to-tail ratio, the army is not fully geared to effect swift high-voltage strikes.


  • Reduction of financial load on the Army: It will bring in savings from salaries and pensions and decrease frustration among officers who in their mid-30s have been released from service. 

Normal Army costs

ToD Costs

  • The cumulative approximate cost of pre-commission training etc. is nearly ₹5.12 crore and ₹6.83 crore respectively on a Short Service Commission (SSC) officer if he or she is released from Service after 10 and 14 years. 
  • Similar costs for those released after a three-year ToD is just ₹80-85 lakh.
  • Similarly, estimates for a jawan with 17 years of service as compared to a ToD jawan with three years service shows that the prospective lifetime savings of just one jawan is ₹11.5 crore.
  • Modernization: Thus, savings could be used for the much needed modernisation of the Army.
  • Healthy citizenry: The nation and the corporates are likely to benefit from a trained, disciplined, confident, diligent and committed men and women who have completed the ToD.
  • Tackling unemployment: Individuals who opted for ToD would get a much higher salary than their peers on an average who started a career in the corporate sector and would also have an edge after leaving the Service and going to the corporate sector. 
  • Attracting best talent: High salary may attract individuals from the best colleges, including the Indian Institute of Technology. 

Army’s modernisation plan

In September 2019 the Indian Government finalised a road map to spend $130 billion in the next five to seven years to modernise the Armed Forces. The plan has following features:

  • Restructuring the Indian Army: The aim of the reforms is to cut down the overall strength by about 150,000 personnel over the next 5 to 7 years. 
    • Four internal studies dealing with right sizing, reorganisation of Army Headquarters, cadre review of officers and review of terms of engagement of rank and file are under processing. 
  • Integrated Battle Groups referred to as the IBG are being introduced in the formations. They are light brigade level organic groups capable of undertaking swift actions. 
    • The Mountain Strike Corps is being made leaner and a new Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Strategy) is being established. 
  • Information Warfare: A newly created branch would deal with this subject which would operate under a Director General who will report to the Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Strategy). 
    • A Human Rights Cell and a Vigilance Cell has been established. 
  • Digital Battlefield: High Technology aspects concern Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Nano Technology, Lethal Automatic Weapon Systems Directed Energy Weapons, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare. Research in all these fields are moving at a steady pace.
  • Infantry Modernisation: A lot of progress has been made to acquire a modern rifle, Machine Gun and Carbine. 
    • By 2020, India would have a total of 2,011 T-90 tanks working out to about 40 Armoured Regiments. 
  • Ordnance Factory Board has produced a lightweight Bullet Proof Jacket which will be provided to the Indian Army which has a requirement of about 186,000 items.
  • There are also six additional regiments being raised for High Altitude conditions. 
  • Manufacture a fleet of modern battle tanks: The Indian Army is upgrading about 1,600 Russian T-72 tanks with night vision devices and the rest would comprise indigenous Arjun tank which is heavier than the T-90 has a 120mm gun which fire APFSDS, HEAT, High Explosive (HE) and High Explosive Squash Head (HESH). 
    • The tank fires the LAHAT missile. This is a semi active laser homing missile with a range of 8 km. The Arjun Mk II is undergoing trials with about 75 modifications.

For the Air Force: Another key priority is to procure 110 multirole fighter aircraft for the IAF. 

  • Missile shield: The government is also working on a mega defence project to make the airspace over almost all its major cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, virtually impregnable.

For the Navy: To bolster its operational capability, the Navy has already finalised a plan to have 200 ships, 500 aircraft and 24 attack submarines in the next 3-4 years. At present, the Navy has around 132 ships, 220 aircraft and 15 submarines.


Tooth to Tail Ratio:

  • The tooth-to-tail ratio (T3R) is the amount of military personnel it takes to supply and support ("tail") each combat soldier ("tooth"). 
  • While both "tooth" and "tail" soldiers may find themselves in combat or other life-threatening situations, "tooth" soldiers are those whose primary function is to neutralize the enemy. 
  • The ratio is not a specific measure but rather a general indication of an army's actual military might in relation to the resources it devotes to supply, upkeep, and logistics.