Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat is toying with an idea to increase the retirement age of jawans, airmen and sailors in the three armed forces that will benefit almost 15 lakhs.
“Why should a jawan serve for just 15 or 17 years? Why can’t he serve for 30 years? We are losing trained manpower because of the early retirement,” he said in an interview to Chandigarh daily ‘The Tribune’.
He said a policy would be brought soon to extend the service profile of the troops to increase the minimum retirement age. Is it to cut manpower costs as pensions were taking away a large chunk of the budget, he said: “I am looking at manpower costs. We are losing trained manpower by letting the jawan retire after serving for just 15 or 17 years.”
The General allayed fears it would change the age profile of the fighting forrce, saying the frontline combatant could be young. “We have an Army Medical Corps. Why can’t the nursing assistant serve till 50 years of age?”
Citing the example of the engineering force in the EMI, he said those at base workshops remain there even in war, so why can't they serve till 50. And, at any given time the forces must not have more than a defined number above 40 years of age.
Speaking on the impact of COVID, he said: “There is transformation required in the armed forces and COVID means it will be done now. It is the need of the hour.”
As regards the target of having joint commands within three years. General Rawat said: “I don’t visualise this going beyond three years. We will have a structure and implementation will start in three years.”
“For now, we are moving ahead with joint Air Defence Command, and the IAF chief has given a presentation on the matter and in six months, we expect to have things in place. This command will have its own doctrine and amalgamate all training and logistic support.”
The next would be the maritime command, followed by the joint commands. The Army is doing a study on joint commands and the Navy on maritine commands. “The office of the CDS has given guidelines and studies will be completed by the year-end,” General Rawat added.
Meanwhile, the Army is examining a proposal for allowing civilians to join the force for a 3-year tenure, officials said. At present, the Army recruits young people under short service commission for an initial tenure of 10 years.