The army has kicked off a drive to streamline its in-house promotion examinations, modelling it on the Common Admission Test (CAT).
It has launched a pilot project to computerise exams, called Part B and Part D in service parlance, which have to be cracked before officers can be promoted to the rank of major and lieutenant colonel.
An officer said the existing testing model was cumbersome and required officers to be away from their units for extended periods. Crippled by a shortage of more than 11,250 officers, the force can hardly afford to keep more of them away from regular duties on the frontlines.
It is no secret that infantry battalions with an authorised strength of around 21 officers are somehow making do with half that number. The officer said computer-based tests would ensure greater availability of manpower, solve logistics problems such as transportation and accommodation and provide a more flexible option to officers.
Plans are afoot to set up 50 to 60 centres across the nation. The new model is expected to be functional by next year. More than 10,000 officers take promotion exams annually. While Part B has to be cleared before completing six years of service, to avoid loss of seniority, the deadline for Part D is 13 years. The exams are designed to test the knowledge of officers in military history, current affairs, law, administration and tactics.
The computerised model will also benefit officers who fail to clear these exams in the first attempt and have to give it another shot.