Indian Army’s Plan of allowing 3 years’ service- An Analysis

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The Indian Army is contemplating allowing civilians to join the service for a period of three years as officers and in other ranks in areas like logistics and front-line formations. Indian army wants to keep its fighting force young while reducing the expenditure on pensions and other emoluments.

Further, the Army is considering appointment of personnel from paramilitary and central armed police forces for up to seven years. After serving for this period, they would then be permitted to return to their parent organizations.

The proposal will be discussed in a meeting to be attended by top commanders of the Indian Army, post which the final decision will be taken.

Types of entries/service tenure

At present there are Permanent Commission and Short service commission in the Indian Army. The entries are being processed through:

  • The National Defence Academy (NDA)
  • The Combined Defence Services (CDS)
  • The Officers Training Academy (OTA)
  • Technical entries

Tour of Duty – An ‘Internship’ with military

The Indian Army is considering a proposal to attract young working professionals to join the force for a three-year tenure as officers and in other ranks for a variety of roles. The ‘Tour of Duty (ToD) for three years is being mulled in the wake of “resurgence of nationalism and patriotism” in the country. The proposal is a shift from the concept of permanent service towards an internship or temporary experience of military life

Possibly there will be no weakening of selection criteria.

Basing on an internal comparative study made by the Indian Army, the Armed Services assessed that training costs on people to be recruited under the Tour of Duty would be justified with their subsequent employment for three years.

Benefits of a 3 year service

  • Fulfills the aspirations of those seeking a ‘thrilling’ career but not for life.
  • Better prospects in corporate world after the year tenure.
  • Many corporates have indicated that ToD officers joining them at 25-27 would be preferable to the current short-service commissioned (SSC) workforce joining them at the age of 33-34 after 10/12 years of service.

This is an ideal opportunity for those individuals who do not want to make defence services their permanent aptitude, but still want to experience the thrill and adventure of the military profession and the glamour of donning the uniform.

Inverse Induction

The Inverse Induction model will look at bringing personnel recruited by Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) into the armed forces’ fold for about seven years, before they go back to their respective recruiting organizations.

The economics for Indian Govt.

The cumulative cost of pre-commission training, pay/allowances, proposed severance packages, leave encashment and other costs for short-service commissioned (SSC) officers released after 10 years – Rs 5.12 crore and 14 years – Rs 6.83 crore.  However, similar costs for those released after three years will be Rs 80- 85 lakh.

Similarly the financial benefit to the Army emerging out of a Jawan employed on ToD for three years against a Jawan with 17 years of terms of engagement is Rs 11.5 crore. In case of a battle casualty, Tour of Duty personnel would be given the same benefits as regular officers, such as liberalized family pension, ECHS facility, gratuity, and ex-servicemen status. ToD model would eventually result in significant reduction in salary and pension budgets.

Defence pensions

Budget for 2020-21 has allocated Rs 1,33,825 crore to defence pensions. In 2005-06, this was Rs 12,715 crore (10 times increase in 13 years), 4.4 % of the total expenditure of the central government expenditure 57 % of Defence Ministry Budget = salaries + pensions 28.4 % of Defence Ministry Budget = pensions 0.6 % of GDP.

The more the government spends on salaries and pensions, the less it can spend on modernizing the armed forces. Defence pensions allocation is now Rs 15,291 crore more than the Defence Ministry’s total capital expenditure. If the 3 years ToD system has been incorporated, C.E. goes towards modernization of the armed forces, pension bills will be nearly equals to the salaries bill.

The Indian Army’s plans of reprioritizing its expenditures

The Indian Army plans to reprioritize its expenditures and defer some activities in the wake of an anticipated cut in the defence budget amid the COVID 19 induced economic crisis. Activities such as movement of units from peace-to-peace locations could be postponed for a year. While explaining that cuts may happen in the Army budget, Indian Army Chief General M M Naravane says that pays, allowances and operational expenditures will remain unaffected.

ToD could benefit modernization

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. The savings on enlisting just 1000 jawans via ToD jawans could be Rs 11,000 crore. It is crucial money for new weapons and tech.


  1. Indian Army Considers 3 Year Long ‘Tour of Duty’ for Civilians, .
  2. NDA vs CDS Officers: Know All the Similarities & Differences, .
  3. Three years’ service among new models Army is looking to use for recruitment, .

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