Tour of Duty Scheme

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    • The three-year short service or ‘Tour of Duty’ for youth in the armed forces is likely to be announced soon.

    What is a Tour of Duty?

    • Meaning: It means hiring a youth in the armed forces for a short span of 3-5 years.
    • The idea of hiring jawans on a three-year contract was first floated in 2020.
      • The idea was the brainchild of late Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat.
    • The Indian Army will be the first of the three armed forces to recruit some soldiers for a fixed period of three years.
    • Around 25% of them would serve in the Army for three years and 25% troops would serve for five years.
      • The remaining 50% would continue to serve in the Army for the full term till they reach their retirement age.
    • Proposal states that 50% of soldiers released at the end of three and five years will be included in the National Pension Scheme.
      • Such soldiers will be given certain medical benefits, applicable to Armed Forces veterans, for a fixed period.

    Background

    • It started during World War II when the British realized that they needed far more officers than those who could be commissioned from either Sandhurst or the JSW (Joint Services Wing).
    • These officers came on a contract for five-10 years and could be later converted to a permanent commission.
      • This was done till the end of World War II.
    • In 1962 during the Indo-China War, the Emergency Commission was reopened and based on the increasing requirement of the officers, Officers Training School (OTS) in Chennai was opened, which granted short-service commissions to five-10 years.

    Models for recruitment

    • The Army is considering two different models for recruitment in the future:
      • One under which youth can voluntarily serve in the Army for a temporary period of three years, and
      • The other where they are recruited by Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), trained and posted in the Army for about seven years, before being transferred back.
    • The first model, of three years’ service, is called ‘Tour of Duty’, while the other is called ‘Inverse Induction’.
    • Currently, the only option apart from regular permanent commission into the armed forces is the short service commission, in which officers are recruited for a period of 14 years.

    Significance of this move

    • Reduction in defence pensions: It is a move towards reducing the burgeoning pension bill as well as revenue expenditure in terms of salaries and other costs.
      • The cost of a jawan, with his training and other expenses, would come down to Rs 80-85 lakh, which would help in releasing funds for military modernisation.
    • Plugging shortages: The defence establishment is hoping that the Tour of Duty scheme will help in resolving the issue of lack of manpower in the Indian Army.
      • This is significant in the current climate where the nation is facing a serious threat from China as well as Pakistan at the borders.
    • Attractive and prime recruit: A young man who would retire as a ToD jawan would be a very attractive and prime recruit for the government sector and corporates.
    • Technology Up gradation: Students from prestigious institutes like IITs who are highly technical will be attracted to the Army for a short period to help them expand the technology in the Army.
    • It is an opportunity for India’s youth: to experience military life without having to join the armed forces on a long-term basis.

    Source: TOI