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Worried Army debates officer shortage, procurement delays

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being introduced with Army commanders by Army chief General Deepak Kapoor during the Commanders' Conference at South Block in New Delhi on Tuesday. Image Credit: PTI

NEW DELHI (PTI): With over 11,500 officers' posts lying vacant and its plans to procure new weaponry getting delayed, Army's top commanders Wednesday debated the two issues threadbare at their conference to evolve ways to bridge the growing gap on both man and machine fronts.

"The present shortage level of officers is about 25 per cent of the sanctioned strength of over 40,000 officers. The Army Commanders, on the first day of the four-day conference, took it up for discussion to work out ways of reducing the shortage level," a senior Army officer said here after the day's deliberations ended.

"The procurement plans for the Army's artillery guns of all types has been stuck for the last two decades and other plans for its air defence and aviation arms too are pending.

The conference wanted simplification of procurement procedures and curbing delays in purchase of new equipment for the Army to keep pace with its modernisation plans," he said.

The Army's Adjutant General Branch, handling Officers' Management, made a presentation to the Commanders on the ways to reduce the shortage of officers, as also the impact of about 1,500 applications for premature retirement received annually from officers.

It sought immediate, proactive action to see to it that the officer shortage did not reach alarming levels, the officer said.

An internal study by the Army last year indicated that it would take 20 years to bridge the shortage in officer strength, even if corrective steps are taken now.

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