Much like the regular army, the Territorial Army (TA) a voluntary military force, is also facing a shortage of officers. According to the ministry of defence sources, TA, which has a requirement of close to 400 officers, is facing a shortage of about 40% of its sanctioned strength of officers.
The regular army has a shortage of about 10,972 officers. At present there are 36,790 officers serving in the army as against the sanctioned strength of 47,762 officers.
According to sources, unlike the regular army, which has over the years seen a decrease in young men joining the force, there has been no dearth in civilians volunteering to join TA.
“Close to 10,000 civilians apply for joining TA. Of them, a handful are called to appear before the Service Selection Board (SSB) and of them only about 10 or 15 pass and are commissioned as officers,” said sources.
“Though there is lot of enthusiasm among the volunteers only a few are able to make the cut due to the stringent requirement. The candidates volunteering to be TA officers should be employed with a government or private firm or should have their own business, apart from being graduates. Besides, their employers should give them no-objection certificates. They will also have to undergo two months of training every year. Hence, many candidates do not meet the requirements,” said a TA officer.
However, TA, which has strength of 40,000 first line troops in close to 70 battalions spread throughout the country, does not face a shortage in the personnel below officer rank (PBOR) level.
TA, which is also called the citizen’s army, consists mostly of civilians who are employed but have received military training and who are called upon to supplement the defence forces in times of emergency. Over the last few a years, celebrities like Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, former cricketer Kapil Dev, Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and actor Mohanlal have been inducted into the TA as honorary lieutenant colonels.