The government has approved a proposal for compulsory part-time military service for all government servants for a minimum of five years in the Territorial Army (TA).

In a letter dated May 23, 2002, a copy of which is with NDTV, the defense ministry informed the Army Chief that the proposal is to be implemented on a priority basis.

The defense ministry is currently working on the exact rules, regulations and other modalities for the scheme.

The proposal is based on the recommendations of the Territorial Army Review Committee, headed by Congress leader K P Singh Deo, a TA official himself. He submitted the report in 1996.

“We are only asking then to give five years of their life to the service of the country, to relieve the regular army,” said K P Singh Deo.

Second line of defense

Under the Territorial Army system, civilians sign up for military training for at least two months every year to create a well trained second line of defense in times of crisis.

The long-term conception is to expand the Territorial Army from its existing strength of 40,000 to 1,00,000 in the next five years as well as expand its role within the defense framework.

“Territorial Army units have done very good work and we see a need to expand and raise more units to carry it on,” said Brigadier Uppal, DDG, Territorial Army.

The new plan also envisages recruitment of experts from the fields of media, psychology, and public relations for specialized defense tasks.

Additional legislative measures are also planned to make sure that their employers will be legally bound to spare them for at least two months of military training each year.

The proposal is aimed at providing some respite to the Indian Army, deployed on the borders and burdened with heavy internal security duties. The armed forces are currently suffering from a 30 per cent shortfall of manpower and the new government proposal seeks to fill this gap.

Once implemented, the idea of compulsory military service for all government servants will surely revolutionize the very nature India’s defense framework.