There is a shortage of more than 11,000 officers in the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy of which more than half are in the Army, officials in the Defence Ministry have said.
According to the Defence Ministry, there is a shortage of officers of the rank of Major and Captain. At the same time, the Indian Air Force is short of important officers like the Squadron Leader and Flight Lieutenant. Similarly, there is a shortage of officers in the Indian Navy, including officers of the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Regarding these vacant posts, the Ministry of Defence says that there was low recruitment of officers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Defence Ministry, due to the low recruitment of officers in the Covid-19 period, there has been a shortage of 11,266 Major and Captain and equivalent ranks and other rank officers in the Indian Air Force and the Navy also.
The Ministry of Defence informed Parliament in writing that the posts of more than 6,800 officers are lying vacant in the Indian Army. The Army is short of 2,094 Major-level officers and 4,734 Captain-level officers. On the other hand, there is a shortage of 881 Squadron Leaders and 940 Flight Lieutenants in the Indian Air Force.
The Navy has a shortfall of 2,617 officers of the rank of Lieutenant Commander and below ranks.
According to Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, there was an impact on the appointment of officers in the Air Force, Navy and the Army during the pandemic period.
Apart from this, the Ministry of Defence says that less recruitment in auxiliary cadres like ‘Short Service Commission’ (SSC) is also responsible for this shortage of officers. Significantly, the recruitment of officers in the defence forces is done through several mediums. One of them is through SSC, where cadets pass out after 11 months of training to become officers and serve in the defence forces for a fixed term of 10 to 14 years.
The Defence Ministry says it is not looking at any alternative strategy like redeployment of officers to these posts to bridge the shortfall, but is looking to make ‘short service’ entry in the Army more attractive.
However, one positive thing amid the vacancy in defence forces posts is that the Ministry of Defence has started the recruitment of women candidates in the National Defence Academy (NDA) from the year 2022. From the year 2022 till now, 57 women cadets have been recruited through NDA.
Haryana leads in the number of NDA women cadets. According to the Defence Ministry, all the 57 vacancies of women cadets in NDA are fully subscribed.
Of these, the maximum number of 19 female cadets are from Haryana followed by Uttar Pradesh (12). According to the Defence Ministry, three women cadets each have been recruited from Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab and two each from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. A total of four women cadets from Kerala were recruited in the Army through NDA, of which one has resigned.