In a move aimed at retaining officers who have been overlooked for promotion, the army is considering shortening the duration of service required to pick up the time-scale rank of colonel.
HT has learnt that the force is considering a proposal to grant the colonel’s rank to superseded officers after they complete 23 years of service. Currently, lieutenant colonels, who are unable to clear their promotion boards, become time-scale colonels after 26 years.
The proposal is among several initiatives being pushed by army chief general Dalbir Singh to improve the terms and conditions of service for officers and men. The incentive of wearing a colonel's red collar tags three years early will discourage officers from quitting the force after rendering the minimum pensionable service of 20 years.
All officers in the army become lieutenant colonels after 13 years. It is at this stage that they have to face promotion boards. A large chunk of officers --- an estimated 50% --- fail to make the cut for the colonel’s rank due to the army’s pyramidal structure and rigorous selection norms.
“These officers still have a lot to contribute to the army. Their experience can be tapped for the benefit of the organisation,” said a senior army officer familiar with the proposal that could benefit 4,000- 5,000 officers.
Shortage of officers is a key issue for the army, which has a sanctioned strength of more than 46,600 officers. The force is currently short of nearly 8,500 officers.
The army’s proposal to grant time-scale rank of colonel early has created a buzz within the service, with officers now reconsidering their plans to hang the uniform after 20 years.
“I was planning to quit next year but now I am going to wait for the outcome of this proposal. I don’t want to forego the privilege of wearing the red collar tabs,” said a superseded lieutenant colonel.