Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gaya to get Army's second Officers Training Academy


NEW DELHI: With the Army continuing to grapple with an acute shortage of officers, the Cabinet Committee on Security has finally approved a second Officers' Training Academy (OTA) at Gaya in Bihar, on the lines of the existing one in Chennai.

"This is a major long term step to solve the problem of shortage of officers. While the Gaya OTA will now commence training of 250 cadets, it will be upgraded to its full design capacity to train 750 short-service commission (SSC) officers annually in due course of time,'' said an official.

At present, Army has two training institutions, Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun for permanent commission (PC) officers and the Chennai OTA for SSC officers.

IMA gets its cadets from the tri-Service National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla, which is open to youngsters after class XII, as well as through the `direct entry' route open to college graduates. The OTA, in turn, is open to college graduates only.

As part of their force-restructuring to maintain a young profile and attract bright youngsters to their fold, the armed forces are gradually moving towards substantially increasing the number of SSC officers in their ranks.

"The change in intake pattern will eventually lead to a 1:2 ratio for PC to SSC officers. IMA currently has a capacity to train 950 officers per year, while the Chennai OTA trains around 500 officers. The capacity at both these academies is also being expanded to train an additional 100 cadets each every year,'' said the officer.

As reported earlier, Army is short of around 11,400 officers, while Navy and IAF grapple with a shortage of about 1,500 and 1,400 respectively. Army, incidentally, has an "authorised'' strength of 46,614 officers, while it is 12,136 for IAF and 8,797 for Navy.

Apart from failing to attract enough youngsters with "officer-like qualities'', the 1.13-million strong Army is also facing a massive exodus from its ranks, with more and more officers opting for premature retirement.

Though the salaries of armed forces have substantially gone up after the 6th Pay Commission, youngsters still find them poor compared to the private sector, especially for a life which is tough and risky. Poor promotional avenues and frequent transfers which disrupt family life are seen to be the other contributing factors.

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