The Department of Military Affairs has finalized the ‘Tour of Duty’ for future armed forces recruiting. The Army will be the first to test the concept, which entails enlisting select soldiers for a three-year period.
According to sources in the defence and security sector, the Army will implement the ‘Tour of Duty’ (ToD) idea, which was first proposed in 2020 and is presently being examined by the government.
The ‘Tour of Duty’ ToD, which is expected to be implemented on a trial basis first, intends to recruit soldiers for a set length of time in order to reduce the weight of pay raises and pensions on the almost 13-lakh-strong force, according to sources.
Moreover, they went on to say that while the initial idea in 2020 would have extended the ToD to officers as well, it is now only available to jawans because officers have the Short Service Commission (SSC) path.
According to the sources, the Army was previously involved in a hiring dispute about whether to adopt a three-year tour of duty or improve the present SSC. According to sources, officers are currently concentrating their efforts on the latter.
Meanwhile, according to sources, the suggestion for short-term contract recruiting was first proposed by the late Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, who was searching for ways to cut the increasing pension bill as well as revenue expenditure on wages and other costs.
In addition, the sources said that the administration was then given the green light to work on the matter, and during following internal discussions, it was decided that in addition to officers, other ranks may be introduced as well.
Tour of Duty to make overall significant recruitment share
Moreover, the original ‘Tour of Duty’ proposal claimed that pre-commission training, pay, allowances, gratuity, suggested severance packages, leave encashment, and other costs would total Rs 80-85 lakh for each officer hired through the scheme.
The proposal stated, adding that the money saved could be used to modernise the Army, “Currently, an amount of Rs 5.12 crore is spent on an SSC officer who retires after 10 years, and Rs 6.83 crore on one who retires after 14 years. The savings on only 1,000 jawans could be Rs 11,000 crore.”
Meanwhile, according to sources, troops in the other ranks category would be recruited under Tour of Duty for a three-year period, during which time they would be trained and placed on the job.
Moreover, they made it clear that regular recruitment will continue.
However, the goal is for the Tour of Duty to account for a considerable portion of total annual recruitment.
During the pandemic, neither the Army, Navy or Air Force organised any recruitment rallies in the last two years, resulting in a 1.3 lakh troop gap.
According to sources familiar with ToD, after a three-year term, the soldiers will be paid and given precedence in recruitment to specific government posts, including the central military police forces.
Further, an effort is also underway to persuade corporate India to hire such ex-ToD candidates on a priority basis for specific lines of work in the private sector.
In 2020, Army Chief General M.M. Naravane stated that the ToD concept arose when the Army discovered from trips to schools and universities that young people were keen to experience Army life.
“When our officers addressed youths in colleges, we came across the feeling that they want to experience Army life, but not as a career. Taking a cue from this, this idea was born of ‘why not give them an opportunity to serve for two or three years,’” he had remarked, taking inspiration from this.