Army short of over 11,000 officers

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New Delhi, Mar 5 (UNI) The government today conceded that there was a shortage of over 11,000 Army officers, mainly in the ranks of Lt Colonel and below, but efforts were being made to make the career in the Services attractive.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister A K Antony said there was a shortage of 11,153 officers in the Army, mainly in the ranks of Lt Colonel and below.

Mr Antony also informed that a total of 3184 officers had applied for premature retirement during the last five years, but the Army had undertaken several measures to make the career in the Services attractive.

Listing out the initiatives in this regard, he said all officers, including those in the Short Service Commission (SSC), are now eligible to hold substantive ranks of Captain, Major and Lt Colonel after ''2, 6 and 13 years of reckonable service'' respectively.

Further, the tenure of SSC officers has also been extended from 10 years to 14 years.

Mr Antony said the Armed Forces had undertaken sustained image projection and publicity campaigns to create awareness among the youth on the advantages of taking up a challenging and satisfying career.

Candidate-friendly recruitment procedure to attract more candidates and a focused publicity drive in various institutions to attract potential candidates have been undertaken.

He said awareness campaigns, participation in career fairs and exhibitions, advertisements in print and electronic media and motivational lectures in schools and colleges are also among the other measures.

The minister said the government had appointed the Sixth Pay Commission to go into the question of revision of salaries and allowances of all the government employees, including those in the Armed Forces.

Mr Antony pointed out that the three Services had presented a joint memorandum to the Pay Commission suggesting revision of pay and allowances and other service conditions.

''The matter has also been discussed with the Pay Commission by the three Service Chiefs and officers in the Defence Ministry,'' he informed.

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