1. Cadre restructuring helps an organisation to align itself to the dynamics of ever evolving situation and maintain congruence between the functional requirements and legitimate aspirations of the officers. Based on the recommendations of second administrative reforms commission the Government of India has decided that cadre review of each Group A service should be undertaken once in five years. The same has not been implemented for defence service officers. The last cadre review of the army officers was carried out in 1984. Though some additional select ranks were created post implementation of AVSC recommendations it does not address the functional organisational requirements as well as the genuine aspirations of the officers.
2. Government vide DoPT monograph of 2010 has laid down the objectives of a cadre review which has traditionally been to strike a healthy balance between the functional requirements and career progression. It need not be emphasized that a satisfied workforce leads to its enhanced efficiency and thereby benefits the organization immensely. Generally speaking, the objectives of a cadre review are to:-
(a) Estimate future manpower requirements on a scientific basis for a period of 5 years at a time.
(b) Plan recruitment in such a way as to avoid future promotional blocks and at the same time prevent gaps from building up.
(c) Restructure the cadre so as to harmonize the functional needs with the legitimate career expectations of its members.
(d) Enhance the effectiveness of the service.
3. There exists a wide disparity between army officers cadre and the prescribed ideal cadre structure. The civil services have just six designations or ranks, while armed forces have nine ranks. The comparative details are as under: -
4. Comparison may not be logical as each service is placed differently with reference to its role, capacity and future growth and so on but such wide disparity is unacceptable. Such disparity has adversely affected the overall functional requirements and morale of the officers. Further individually promotion is important as it signifies: -
A financial upgradation.
Higher responsibilities leading to greater job satisfaction and fulfilment.
Improved social standing which is generally associated with the designation.
5. It is therefore imperative that army officers cadre be aligned with ideal cadre structure of Group A central services. Army has proposed the cadre review with a view to address the above disparity within the organisational constraints. The proposal of dropping the rank of Brigadier and assigning the command of both Brigade and Division to Maj Gen on the similar lines as Lt Gens are presently commanding both Corps and Command merits consideration.
6. All India Service officers are able to reach a SAG posts/ pay scales in just 16 to 18 years of service and over 95% retire in HAG/HAG (+) while not even 2% army officers reach HAG/HAG (+). The proposal to make Maj Gen as minimum retirement rank for Army officers to meet their genuine aspirations is organisational necessity. Yes, it would require overcoming some attitudinal and mental blockages but it would go a long way in addressing the aspirations of the Commissioned Officers.
7. In the current pyramidical structure of the army only 30 to 35% officers of a batch make it to the rank of Cols where they stagnate for 9 to 11 years before one out of three gets promoted to the rank of Brigadier from where progression to the rank of Army Commander takes place in a span of 7 to 8 years. The span of exposure is thus limited due to less duration spent as Maj Gen and Lt Gen.
8. Further 70% of Cols who do not get promoted stagnate for 16 to 18 years in the same rank before retirement i.e. in a carrier span of 32 to 33 years, 70% of Cols spend about 50 to 55% of their carrier stagnating in the same rank. Expecting a higherlevel or even optimum level of motivation from them without any scope of further promotion is a tall order.
9. The proposed model will facilitate a motivated leadership and ensure longer exposure to Maj Gen before getting upgraded to Corps Commander and Army Commander.
10. As regards the apprehensions to the proposal, it is pertinent to mention that the implementation of recommendations of AVSC was very smooth. A unit with Lt Col as Second in Command as well as Company Commanders functioned as a well-oiled cohesive team. Units performed exceedingly well whether it was with defending the borders, cross-border operations or counter insurgency operations in safeguarding the internal security. Similar will be the transition with Maj Gen commanding a Brigade and a Division as irrespective of the rank the job content remains the same. In fact, they will be much more motivated as the Brigade Commander will be operating with a higher self-esteem in internal security scenario where he has to interact with his counterparts in IPS and IAS or while tenanting an appointment in the Service Headquarter.
11. Other aspect which could be part of the cadre review includes reduction in the overall strength of commissioned officers by introduction of feeder cadre. Presently the base of the pyramid of commissioned officers is abnormally wide which is the biggest impediment in meeting the aspirations of the officers. We need to find ways and means to shorten the base. Today there is an overall deficiency of about 15% officers upto the rank of Lt Col which translates into 40 to 45% deficiency in units due to leave, temporary duty, deputation, training and other miscellaneous commitments. Induction of direct entry JCOs can be considered who can perform optimally if responsibilities are delegated from inception itself. In fact, they will infuse competition amongst the promoted JCOs thereby improving overall efficiency at the level of Platoon Commanders. The Direct Entry JCOs can be considered for promotion upto the rank of Lt Col which will not only meet their aspirations, but will also address the deficiency in the non-select rank and reduce the base strength of the pyramid.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of CENJOWS.