Attrition: The Chronic Indian Officer Shortage


May 31, 2006: India has, since it became independent in 1947, maintained high standards for its army officers. This was a tradition inherited from the British, who demonstrated how important it was to have well trained and professional officers running the armed forces. But a booming economy, and plenty of jobs for university graduates, has proved too much for army recruiters. Being an army officer is a tough job, and there are so many more attractive (and better paying) alternatives available.

As a result, the army currently has 11,256 officer positions unfilled. That's 27 percent of the officers in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and below. That puts a higher workload on other officers, and the NCOs that often substitute for the missing officers. This higher work load does not make for positive word-of-mouth. Even the children of current officers are seeking careers elsewhere. Better pay and benefits would be a big help, but the military doesn't have the money for that. So a new marketing campaign is being ordered up, one that will appeal to patriotism and other intangibles. This is unlikely to work, as Indian public opinion believes that, since India has nuclear weapons, there is little danger of invasion. The only real enemy on India's borders is Pakistan, which has been defeated by the Indian army four times in the past fifty years.




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