Defence Forces have shortage of 18,000 officers : Jaswant

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New Delhi, Oct 23 (UNI) Defence Forces have a "very critical" shortage of 18,000 officer-level ranks as a result of certain anomalies in their (Forces') welfare system and the central government should take immediate steps to redress their grievances, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh said today.

Mr Jaswant Singh, who has been Minister for Defence and External Affairs during the previous NDA regime, said during Zero Hour it was "unusual" that the Chiefs of the three Services had to come out in public and mention about their grievances.

"It is an unusual step taken under unusual circumstances and needs sympathetic handling by the government,' he said.

"Why does a soldier want to die (for the country). The principle motivation is 'izzat' (honour). If you do not give them the 'izzat' they deserve, you rob them of the motivation and morale," he pointed out.

Mr Jaswant Singh demanded that services be represented at the Pay Commissions constituted by the government.

Saying that there were anomalies in the Sixth Pay Commission, the BJP leader urged the government to remove them.

He lamented that a soldier retired at the age of 36 years and consequently, young manpower got wasted. He called for rehabilitation of the ex-servicemen.

"It is a great pity that young and talented manpower goes waste.

The ex-servicemen is a vital category...," he said.

Mr Singh demanded that matters regarding Defence Forces be addressed at tehe Prime Minister's level.

UNI RB NK AS1432

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