Today Indian Army is functioning with 12000 officers less, Indian Air Force with 1124 officers less and Indian navy with 429 officers less. Current Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor has even talked about conscription as an option on a future date if things do not improve. Career in Armed Forces is not priority choice of Indian youth. It is difficult to believe that young in India which constitute 75% of our billion strong population, in their quest for good things in life, have all but forgotten about the trials, tribulations, humiliations and exploitation which we as a country had suffered for almost 700 years in the hands of foreign invaders just because we were militarily weak. Training to become an officer in The Army begins after one gets selected as a Gentlemen Cadet, in National Defence Academy (NDA) Pune after qualifying in 10+2 or at Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun if one is a graduate. The cadet in NDA during his three years stay there gets both Military and Academic expertise and is awarded graduation from the Pune University. IMA caters for specialized training for the Army and is for two years duration. The entire training in NDA and IMA is free of cost. The lodging, boarding, sports and other facilities are top class and can be compared to the best not only in India but the world. The thrust of this training is on complete and balanced personality development. Life in Army in true sense starts after the Cadet having completed his training successfully joins his battalion as a commissioned officer. Now commences his leadership training and grooming at the grass roots level. If it is Infantry he is appointed a platoon commander leading approximately 40 men and if it is Armoured Corps he is made a troop leader. The Officer learns his ropes and the intricacies of his profession under different situations actually leading these men. His superiors are always there to guide him and encourage him. It really is a unique experience, leading and looking after 40 men who trust you like a god and living up to their expectations. Unlike other central services where after the initial training life is smooth sailing with promotions coming at regular intervals, in Armed forces one continues doing structured training even unto the rank of a two star general. An officer by the time he becomes a one star general (Brigadier) normally has done approximately five to six training courses ranging from six months to one year duration. Armed forces take pride in their training institutions. Some of them, like Defence Services Staff College Wellington have almost 200 year old history. Most of these training institutions are affiliated with some teaching University so if you do Staff College you are also examined by Madras University which awards you post graduate degree. If you are selected to undergo Long Defence Management Course of one-year duration At College of Defence Management Secunderbad, you are awarded the Degree of Master of Management Services by Osmania University. There is no denying the fact that Army service with its adventure, the risk factor, the varied environment and terrain; the requirement of quick decision-making and accountability makes a real man out of you. One never calls it a day and always hopes against hope to keep oneself in positive frame of mind. After the rank of Major all promotions are by selection and are very fair. The pay and the perks are also good .The Armed Forces can not pay their officers like what corporate houses do but the pay and the pension are sufficient to lead a decent life. One may not be able to wine and dine in a five star hotel in ArmyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pay but the Army Messes and Clubs are no less than five Stars if not more. The uniqueness of the Armed Forces service is that you do not loose your rank even after retirement and continue to get the same respect. Indeed a great tradition. It is really surprising that despite all this, youth are not coming to Armed Forces. This is a dangerous portend. In the last decade the Armed Forces have been trying to entice youth to join them by publicizing in the media but the results have not been encouraging. Only success story is commissioning of Women Officers in Armed Forces. Today there are 640 women officers in Army, 420 in Air Force and 100 in Navy. Recently Government has extended their service duration to 14 years and unto the rank of Lt.Col.May be they should now be given permanent commission in the Armed Forces to cater for the shortfall. To make career in Armed Forces more lucrative government must clear the long pending proposal of lateral movement of Armed Forces Officers into Paramilitary Forces And CPOs.If an IPS Officer with no knowledge of matters military can proceed on deputation to any of these paramilitary forces and CPOs why not a highly trained military officer who cuts his teeth fighting insurgency and militants? After 1962 China debacle, to attract youth to join Army in large numbers Government had reserved 33% vacancies in central services like IAS, IPS, and IFS to short service and emergency commissioned officers. Lot of these officers having served their motherland and after fighting Indo Ã¢â‚¬â€œPak War of 1965, made use of this opportunity to join these services. Most of them did very well in these services and rose to very high ranks. Their Army service proved to be a great asset. Perceiving this as a threat to their domain our bureaucrats quietly made the Government withdraw this facility. It is time that this window of opportunity must again be opened. Another probable reason for the Armed Forces not getting the right type of youth for their officer cadre is that youth from rural background and less developed states like UP and Bihar are not able to qualify in the selection process it being very scientific and tough. Instead of waiting for end product in these areas the Armed Forces may identify the potential candidates when the students are in Eighth standard through the medium of National Cadet Corps and then groom them to come up to the right standards. These young minds should be taken to various remote areas where Army is deployed on adventure trips and made to see for themselves how the love for the country and adventure makes the adriline flow faster in the blood stream. Here again NCC can play a stellar role. Shortage of officers in Armed forces, specially at grass roots level, is a very serious matter and needs immediate attention of the Government at the Centre.India is surrounded by failed states like Pakistan and Bangladesh who are bent upon creating mischief in India.Naxal movement and Maoists are also on the rampage. Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and North Eastern States contiues. In the time to come Army is more and more likely to get involved in fighting them in addition to its basic role of fighting external aggression. With 12000 officers less, this will be a Herculean task. The story of Indian Air Force and Navy is no better.