New Delhi: Grappling with a shortage of over 12,500 Army officers, India is all set to open a swanky new military training academy at Gaya in Bihar in a month to augment the number of troop commanders.
The first batch of 200 cadets will begin training soon at the Gaya Officers Training Academy (OTA), where they will be moulded into fine young officers.
With training infrastructure development complete and staff requirements met, the government has sanctioned the inauguration of the Gaya OTA on the lines of the existing Chennai-based OTA for short-service officers, senior defence ministry officials said.
"The government has given its nod to open the new OTA at Gaya and it will happen within a month`s time. The first batch of 200 cadets too will join the Gaya OTA soon," officials said.
The 1.13-million-strong Indian Army has a sanctioned officer strength of 47,864. But the shortage of 12,510 officers in its current strength is crippling, particularly in the ranks of captain, major and lieutenant colonels who lead troops.
As a result, the Army`s fighting battalions such as infantry and artillery have to make do with just a third of their sanctioned strength of 28 officers.
It is to bridge this gap that the Army had in 2008 made the proposal to start a second OTA to supplement the Army intake of Short Service Commissioned (SSC) officers from the existing Chennai-based OTA and Permanent Commissioned (PC) officers from the Dehradun-based Indian Military Academy (IMA).
Another proposal from the Army, then, was to increase the number of seats in Chennai OTA and Dehradun IMA with improvement and upgrade of these institutions` infrastructure and staff requirements.
The Cabinet Committee on Security, in December 2009, formally approved the Gaya OTA project.
As per the government orders, the Gaya OTA will be housed in the existing premises of the Army Service Corps Centre (North), which is being moved to Bangalore.
With a capacity to train 750 cadets a year, the OTA`s fund requirement would be to the tune of Rs 364 crore for non-recurring expenditure and Rs.44.75 crore recurring expenses annually.
The Gaya OTA will begin with 200 SSC cadets first and then eventually increase its annual, two-batch intake to 750 cadets. This 750 cadets will be the additional recruitment of officers by the Army to bridge the shortage in its cadre every year from 2011.
This apart, the Army gets a maximum of 600 SSC officers from the Chennai OTA and another 1,100 PC officers from IMA annually.
The Army`s second proposal to increase the intake in Chennai OTA to 650 and IMA 1,450 per year, to add another 400 officers to the Army`s cadre, is under the consideration of the defence ministry, the officials said.
IMA gets its cadets from the tri-service Khadakwasla-based National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune, open to youngsters after Class 12, and through the `direct entry scheme` for college graduates. The OTA is open to college graduates only.
Armed forces want to gradually, but substantially, increase the number of SSC officers in their ranks, as part of force-restructuring to maintain a youthful profile of its troop commanders. The eventual plan is to have two SSC officers to every PC officer (2:1 ratio) in its cadre.