Central police forces to be boosted with ex-servicemen - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Thursday 15 December 2011

Central police forces to be boosted with ex-servicemen

An exhausted paramilitary trooper during last year's street violence across J&K

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 16th Dec 11

Bowing to years of pressure from the armed forces, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has agreed that retired military personnel will make up 10% of the combat strength of all central armed police forces.

According to a defence ministry (MoD) press release today, Defence Minister Shri AK Antony informed the Parliamentary Consultative Committee for Defence that “The MoHA has agreed to fill 10% of the Group ‘B’ posts in Central Paramilitary Forces from among Ex-Servicemen.” Group ‘B’ consists mainly of combatants.

Antony also stated “efforts are now being made to persuade public sector undertakings and the private sector to tap this invaluable reservoir of talented and disciplined Ex-Servicemen.”

The “Central Paramilitary Forces” that Antony mentions include the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF); the Border Security Force (BSF); the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF); the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP); the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB); and other smaller forces.

Going by the government’s own definition that was formalised in March 2011, Antony erred in terming these “Central Paramilitary Forces”; the correct term is “Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).” A “paramilitary force” is an armed force that is officered by serving military officers. India’s only “Central Paramilitary Forces” are the Assam Rifles; the Special Frontier Force; and the Coast Guard.

The MoHA’s acceptance of ex-servicemen comes as a double relief for the MoD. The defence services have a growing pension bill (Rs 34,000 crore this fiscal) for soldiers, sailors and airmen who retire as young as 35, after 15 years in uniform, and draw pensions for the rest of their lives. Post-retirement employment with a CAPF would postpone their entitlement of pension. It would also free the MoD of responsibility for rehabilitating them.

The military has pushed this case since 1997-98, when army chief, General VP Malik, suggested that CAPFs re-enlist half of the 50,000 soldiers who retire from the army each year. The army’s suggestion was to reduce colour service --- the period for which an individual is recruited into the army --- to just 7 years. After that the fully trained soldier would join a CAPF. This would make the army younger; and also stiffen the CAPFs’ combat capabilities with trained soldiers.

“This win-win proposal was strongly backed by the 5th and the 6th Pay Commissions; but the MoHA resisted it. The army will welcome the 10% opening given to ex-servicemen. It is a good beginning,” says Brigadier (Retd) Gurmeet Kanwal, who framed the original proposal in 1997-98 and now heads the army’s think tank, Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

The MoHA’s objections are detailed in the 29th report of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence. North Block objected that absorbing soldiers who had served 7 years in the military would make the CAPFs older and greyer. The parliamentary committee rebutted that, pointing out that the average soldier is recruited at 19 years and would be just 26 years old after 7 years of military service. Since the age limit for recruitment into CAPFs is 26 years, ex-servicemen would qualify even as fully trained soldiers.

The MoHA then protested that soldiers have a proclivity for excessive force, whereas the CAPFs must function with a softer touch. The Standing Committee responded that soldiers, who are extensively employed in counter-insurgency operations in J&K and the northeast, have conclusively demonstrated the restraint that such situations demand. In a sarcastic aside, the Standing Committee noted that CAPF restraint emerges mainly when face-to-face with Naxals and militants.

The biggest sticking point, however, was the 7 years of seniority that soldiers would carry, giving them a promotion advantage over direct recruits into the CAPFs. The MoD has agreed that direct inductees’ promotion vacancies and salaries would be suitably protected.

There are more than 7,50,000 persons in the CAPFs, which have a combined budget of more than Rs 25,000 crore in the current fiscal.


  1. semi army...it will keep 10% in CAPF's active, alert and battle worthy.....extended army...good move...and needless to say tat it will induce experience in CAPF's which may reduce their counter insurgency losses..and improve training standards....gud one..

  2. This is excellent news indeed. Hopefully the private sector also will tap the ex-servicemen pool!!!

  3. @Ajai sir

    the idea of re-enlisting soldiers who retire from army is indeed a very potent and justified move. These guys after serving for 15 years in army go back to sendantry lifestyle (mostly villages as farmers or chuakidar) thus wasting their experience as well as money spent on them for training.

    While the MoD is correct that 7 year service will make the army much younger, I think it should be left to the soldier himself whether he wants to continue for another 8 years thus totaling 15 year service or after 7 year service wants to re-enlist in para military.

    This is same like SSC option given to officers who after 5 year service are given option for continue in army or retire enriched with experience.

    Giving them this option may also help boost their psych. Also those choosing to continue for 15 years should be given higher pension as compared to what they would get after 7 year service.

    The men choosing to re-enlisting in CAPFs (separate battalion a must)will bring in invaluable experience but the training they get in army should also be imparted to those who join CAPFs directly. The direct recruits who excel in any branch should be assimilated in re-enlisted battalions.

    That will essentially provide us with a back up/reservist army like the US, whose service can be immediately recalled for active duty during strife (like Kargil war). Only BSF, Assam Rifle, ITBP, SSB at present play support role, while CISF, CRPF literally have no direct role.

    Hope these measures proposed by MoD/MoHA will create a better sense of belongingness in our soldiers


    Joydeep Ghosh

  4. The only thing we must consider is that in general Army men and officers have a greater sense of fraternity and bonding due to the long and traditional regimental system .
    They also enjoy some more facilities than the para-military jawans and generally have better infrastructure to operate in.CAPFs differ in their discipline levels and charter of duties with some having more civilian interaction and some less.Some CAPFs operate in atrocious conditions with horrible infrastructure backup. CAPF officers too differ in their approaches and with officers of IPS also there,the approach can be 'civilian' like in some case.The jawans going so to CAPF must be properly counselled and trained on the differing ethos in a civilian set up and what to expect and not expect there.There is a danger of us vs them and of creeping frustration if the large number of ex-Army men are nor able to gel with the other members of the CAPF from the regular selections and differing realities in CAPF.

  5. Ha ha ha at the comment of the CAPF personnel's restraint coming in the face of Naxals only.

  6. I have been hoping for this to happen for many years. This is a most welcome move.

  7. I have few suggestions,
    1) Considering the shortage of Commissioned Officers (CO.) Government should make it mandatory for the IPS. officers (considering medically fit) to serve as CO. for at-least five years. or
    2) Government should take IPS. officers only from the pool of ex-army men who has completed the Short Service.

  8. Colonel saab
    where is the article on FGFA?

  9. This is basically a good idea which needs to be activated and promoted.

  10. Induction of 10% per annum would mean that only around 1000 to 2000 or so Army soldiers will be inducted per annum

  11. Colonel Saheb,
    This is abject adhocism in front of a problem which has been recognised as grave.

    The entire CPOs need to be militarised rather than peopnised which it has been rendered today. CRPF, the so called counterinsurgency force functions in the houses and bunglows of IPS and other police officers. It is a force which can at best beat up Indian citizens with danda with a colonial zeal.
    CRPF needs to be built up as an effective CI force and for that it needs to be moulded into a para milary force. Same is the case for others CPOs like BSF.
    India needs at least 15 to 20 divisions of second line of defense as also to provide internal security. Unless these CPOs are semi militarised, the requirements will not be met.

    Follow recommendations of VI Pay Commission. Plain and simple. IPS as lobby is simply busy in empire building rather than finding a solution.


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