Thousands of young officers in the army have flunked key in-house promotion exams, prompting worries that brawn may have got the better of brain in the world’s second largest fighting force.
These annual exams, called Part B and Part D in service parlance, have to be cracked before officers can be promoted as major and lieutenant colonel, respectively. Of the 8,506 officers who took these exams last July and November, 1,944 failed in every subject, reveals a restricted report card prepared by the Army’s directorate general of military training.
Only 2,240 officers were able to clear the exams while the remaining “partially passed” one or more subjects. The exams are designed to test the knowledge of officers in military history, current affairs, law, administration and tactics. A mere 29 per cent of the 3,903 officers who appeared for Part D managed to get through.
The performance of officers who sat for Part B was even more dismal with only 23 per cent of the 4,603 examinees making the cut. It’s not as if the 1.13 million strong army was producing scholar warriors in the past. Top army officers, not authorised to talk to the media, said pass percentage in these exams had hovered around 25 per cent over recent years.
An officer said, “These exams can be cleared in phases over a period of time. Sometimes officers tend to take it a little easy.” While Part B has to be cleared before an officer completes six years of service to avoid loss of seniority, the deadline for the other exam is 13 years. Lieutenant General H.S. Bagga, a former director general of Army’s manpower, planning and personnel services branch, said extensive deployment in counter-insurgency operations left officers with little time for academics. “Till late 1980s, when Kashmir was peaceful, almost 80 to 90 per cent officers cleared these exams,” said Bagga.