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
- 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.