A study is currently under way to identify various disciplines where the retirement age can be enhanced

The Army’s attempt to increase the retirement age of Jawans in specialised disciplines progressively to between 55-58 years is likely to benefit 30-40% of the force, or about four lakh personnel, who would get to continue in the service longer, army officials said. A study is currently under way to identify various disciplines where the retirement age can be enhanced.

“We are loosing skilled manpower,” said an army official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We have identified specialists in various disciplines and looking if we can increase their [retirement] age progressively to 50, 54 and eventually 58,” the official added. Such specialists include medical assistants, radiologists and technicians in the electronics and mechanical engineering corps posted at Corps Headquarters and base workshops among others. “Our estimate is this will benefit 30-40% of the personnel in the 1.2 million strong army,” the official stated.

The study, which was initiated earlier this year and is being carried out by the Adjutant General, was to have been submitted to the government a couple of months back but was extended. “It was sent to the Commands for comments but the initial feedback was not encouraging,” the official said, explaining the delay.

For instance, the Army Medical Corps (AMC) recommended only three trades for enhancement. So, Army Headquarters had asked for another assessment and the revised comments “are expected in a month.”

A majority of Jawans start retiring at about 40-42 years of age. While this has been set due to the rigours of military service, there has been huge technological advancement over the decades and also not all personnel go through the same stress or serve in extreme situations, officials said. “The effort is to identify specialised disciplines by category and service and enhance the age of retirement,” the official added.

Extension of retirement age serves a dual benefit: for one it retains expertise and thus saves the cost of replacing the experienced personnel; and secondly it also reduces the mounting pension burden on the Army. The personnel too get to continue active service for a longer duration instead of having to search for a second employment.

This study is in addition to the four major thrust areas of force restructuring and transformation ordered by Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat. These are the restructuring of Army Headquarters, force restructuring, cadre review of officers and review of terms and conditions of Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) and ORs. The Army is awaiting government sanction for some of the proposed measures of which the restructuring of Army Headquarters is likely to be implemented next year.

In addition, the Army is considering a proposal to increase the service requirement for eligibility for retirement for Jawans and Lance Naiks across the board, from the current 15 years — initially by two years and going up progressively to 20 years — in a phased manner.