The shortage of officers is a live problem the army is facing today. Unfortunately, the realization has not dawned on many people that this is not merely the army’s problem, but the concern of the nation. Army is after all, a national asset, and any degradation in its efficiency is detrimental to national security and national interest. The efforts to overcome this problem therefore needs to be made at a national level.
While articles on the subject continue to appear with regularity in national media and websites, practical solutions are hard to come by. This article on Meri News, for instance, even suggests better looking spouses for army officers, improving their social standing. One wonders the efficacy of such moves, but it is heartening to note that thought is being given to the issue.
One possible solution is to make five years of military service compulsory for all gazetted government officers in the centre and states. The entry age should be reduced, exams held immediately after graduation, and successful candidates should join the army, serve for five years and then move on to their respective service. This would be a win win situation, since there is no dearth of aspirants for the civil and allied services, and all these candidates could contribute to the security of the nation prior to moving on to their selected career. Reducing of induction age would ensure that they enter their respective parent service at the same age that they are doing now.
Apart from sorting out the officer shortage in the Army, such a move would also have spin off benefits such as instilling the undoubtedly commendable discipline and ethos of the services in the entire administration, the posting in far flung places during military career giving exposure to grassroots situation to the civil servants, and creating a reserve pool of trained personnel available in case of any exigency. Also, it would promote better understanding of defence affairs amongst the administrators, something that is sadly lacking today.
The time has come to stop paying lip service to the live problem of shortage of officers in the army, and take concrete steps such as the one suggested.