T he Indian Army’s results for the promotion of officers to the rank of full Colonel are out. The good news is that more than fifty per cent of infantry and artillery Lieutenant Colonels from the batch of 1994 will get their red collar dogs, with the increase in the number of vacancies due to the AV Singh committee’s recommendations. 55 per cent of the artillery officers and 53 per cent of the infantry officers under scrutiny have been promoted to the rank of Colonel.
Officers from the armored and mechanized infantry have not, however, benefited much from these recommendations because of the comparatively smaller number of vacancies available at the rank of Colonel. Less than 40 per cent of the 1993-batch armored officers under consideration have been approved.
While in infantry regiments there is a ratio of 21 junior officers to a Colonel, in armored regiments the proportion is roughly 26 junior officers to a Colonel.
Significantly, across all the arms and services, all officers having attended Technical Staff College courses at the Institute of Armament Technology in Pune have been approved for promotion. Also, more than 90 per cent of the infantry and artillery officers who have passed staff college courses at the Defense Services Staff College in Wellington have been promoted, with the figure swelling to 100 per cent in the case of armored officers.
The purpose of the AV Singh committee’s recommendations was to effect a general reduction in the age of the commanding officers of the units of the fighting arms.
But while this result has shown an increase in the number of officers getting promoted, there is still dissatisfaction at the number of officers who can no longer hope for further promotion. “Half the number of army officers still find their career progression blocked. In contrast to civil and police service officers, the army will still be a dead-end for many Lieutenant Colonels,” said one officer, who did not wish to be named, as he was not authorized to speak on this issue.
The percentage of Lieutenant Colonels promoted is only in the context of the existing officer strength of the Indian Army. This percentage would be diluted, and fall, if the army were to achieve its sanctioned officer strength of more than 45,000.