Are you an individual with lot of energy, physical stamina, heaps of courage, and of course, unwavering patriotism! Being in the armed forces will help you develop character qualities and mold you as good leaders and useful citizens in the service of the nation. The qualities of leadership, discipline, esprit-de-corps, courage and confidence with a secular outlook, which are the hall marks of good and useful citizens, are inculcated in the field of the armed forces. The army’s combat and non-combat divisions, the navy’s all year around, on board assignments, the air force’s thrill and sensation filled vocation that literally gives you out of this world experience, the coast guard and paramilitary forces all preparing you for a life filled with fun, adventure and excitement. A career in the armed forces holds promise of honor, glory, privileged lifestyle and a high standing in the society.
Primary role of the armed forces is to defend the country. The very security of the country lies in your hands, or maybe even your brains. The armed forces include combat forces on land, in water and in air- the three services are the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. All the three branches work in perfect coordination complementing each other work. Along with these there are also the supporting or non-combat forces comprising doctors, nurses, engineers, accountants, logistic experts, legal experts, administrative staff, etc. While combat, forces win wars and defend the country, the non-combat forces support the soldiers by providing all the best equipment, communication, education and training, take care of their health. Remember every role is critical for defending the country effectively. The nature of work in the armed forces is diverse and requires people specialized in a wide range of disciplines which includes physics, mathematics, electronics, law, economics, and education.
Being in the armed forces, you will be also doing things from patrolling the cold mountain regions right up to helping people during a natural calamity like a flood or an earthquake. A lot of times, people who need to be rescued are in places that only the equipment available with the armed forces can reach them. You will also be responsible for making sure that terrorists, underworld dons, and of course, enemy soldiers do not disrupt the peace of the country. An armed forces operation is one that requires the co-operation of its every single branch and of course every operation has to be planned well, so that needless waste of resources could be avoided. Therefore, every branch of the armed forces spends sometime on combat exercises with other branches, and sometimes even with a branch of the armed forces of a foreign country.
Which is better? The army or the Navy or the Air Force?
No one service is superior or inferior to the other. All the three services offer similar challenges, exciting life, and attractive pay and perks which no other career can offer you. Presence of the armed forces are on the land: The Army, on the sea: The Navy, in the air: The Air Force, during emergencies: All the above forces plus the Paramilitary Forces (on land) and during peace time: The Paramilitary Forces plus the Coast Guard (on the sea). So, if you wish to join a force that you would enjoy, what you should be concerned about while choosing the branch is what kind of work and what subjects, appeal to you. Also, think what you could be good at.
The armed forces offer a world of exciting career opportunities to you. Even professionals such as engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc. make successful careers in the armed forces. Let’s move on and understand more about careers in the armed forces. You can start off your career as an army officer or air force pilot or naval officer. You can become an expert engineer, doctor, a trainer, a vet, a lawyer or an administrative officer and support the combat division in times of war and peace. As you grow in the armed forces, you get many opportunities along the way. Like specialized training in India and abroad on a particular area, option to study further, possibility to get posted in Indian missions abroad, amongst others. In all these careers, armed forces promises a lifestyle that one cannot imagine in any other profession, so early in life.
So, now it is up to you to choose how you wish to serve the nation.
How long should you serve?
The duration of your service in the armed forces can be for a minimum of 5 years. You can also serve in the armed forces for few years by joining the short service commission. In the army, you can serve as a Commissioned Officer for 5 years. Once your tenure is over, you are allowed to opt for a permanent commission. Alternatively, you can get a 5-year extension and choose to resign from your post any time during this period. In the air force the duration of short service commission is 10 years which can be extended for 5 more years. In the navy, you can choose to serve for 7 years in short service commission and then extend it to another 10 years with a short service commission you will have the best of both worlds. It gives you the privileges and benefits of a full-fledged commission for a short time and on the other hand you could join the permanent commission and serve the army till you retire.
Finding a job in the Armed forces
Finding a job in the armed forces once you’re in their school is not difficult. In fact, you don’t have to do anything at all! Just complete the course which you have taken up in the armed forces school-be it Engineering, Medicine, or even just Combat Training, and according to the type of course you’ve chosen, the armed forces will post you in a position that will utilize your training and your skills. Don’t worry about where they’ll post you! If you’ve just completed Mechanical Engineering in the armed forces school, they’re not going to put you in to the Electronics Department, nor can you opt to serve in that department, unless of course, you’ve done the Electronics course first! If you have professional degrees like engineering, law or medicine outside the armed forces institutes, then you need to get in through the short service commission selection process. Once you go through the training you will be assigned your respective roles.
Requirements to be eligible
You've obviously got to have a love for your mother land and the passion to serve your country. To start with let’s check out some of the general requirements.
Citizenship: You must be an Indian citizen. As a special case if you are a citizen of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, refugees or migrants from the rest of the Indian sub continent with the intention of settling permanently in India can also apply.
Physical Fitness: You must be physically fit and free from any disease or disability and excess fat.
Vital Statistics: Your height should not be less than157.5cm. For Gurkhas and residents of north eastern India, the minimum acceptable height is 5 cm lower than the standard, and for candidates from Lakshadweep, the minimum height is lowered by 2cm.
Vision: You should be able to read 6/6 in a distant vision chart with each eye, with or without glasses.
Age: The lowest age at which you can join the forces is 161/2 years and the entry is open till 27 years.
Age limits and qualifications
The age limits vary depending on your qualification at the time of your joining.
- If you plan to join armed forces immediately after your 10+2 then you should be between 16 ½ and 19 ½ years.
- If you plan to join armed forces after graduation, then your age should fall between19-24yrs.
- For direct technical entry as engineers and doctors you need to be between 20-27 years.
So now, it’s for you to decide how and when you want to join the forces. Besides these general conditions, each training institute and exam has its own standards and requirements. And of course, there is a separate screening process for women. Let’s move on and find out more about the institutes and the selection requirements.
The different training academies of the armed force.
Before you actually get into active service in the armed forces, you will undergo training in one of the training academies. The academy where you will get training depends on when you enter armed forces and later which services you join. Each of these academies also have very specific selection criterion and procedures. Let’s now take a look at different training academies.
National Defence Academy (NDA)
The National Defence Academy is a premier service training institution where the future officers of armed forces undergo training. It is located in Pune and is affiliated to Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for award of B.A. / B.Sc. / B.Sc. (Computer Science). Every cadet who is selected in to the armed forces will undergo a training for 6 terms before he passes out and joins his commission. NDA is inter-service academy where all cadets undergo common academic, physical, sports and equitation training before moving onto the specialized service training.
Indian Military Academy
On passing out from the National Defence Academy, army cadets go to the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun,naval cadets to the Cadets Training ship and airforce cadets to AFA,Hyderabad/BFTS, Allahabad.
Indian Air Force Academy
At IMA, army cadets are given strenuous military training for a period of one year aimed at turning out officers capable of leading infantry sub-units. On successful completion of their training, cadets are granted a permanent commission in the rank of 2nd Lieutenants subject to being medically fit.
Indian Naval Academy
On passing out from NDA, naval cadets are given seat ranging for a period of six months. On successful completion, they are promoted to the rank of Mid ship men. After a further training of six months in the respective branches to which they are allocated they are promoted to the rank of acting Sub-Lieutenants. Air force cadets receive flying training for a period of 1-11/2years. However, at the end of one year of training they are given provisional commission in the rank of Pilot Officer. After successful completion of further training of six months they are absorbed as permanent commissioned officers on probation for a period of one year.
Dr. Itishree Misra is a Clinical Psychologist and a Career Counselor. She has close to 2 decades of experience in academia and industry. Dr. Misra has been recognized widely for her work in the field for education and psychometrics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org