Tuesday, January 11, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

IAF struggling to fill key posts
By Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 10 — With about 70 re-employed Air Force officers hanging up their uniforms on account of non-extension of their service tenures, the IAF is struggling to fill several key posts in various IAF installations which have fallen vacant.

Most of these officers are in the rank of Wing Commanders and Group Captains and were holding important administrative appointments such as Station Adjutant, Senior Operations Officer and Chief Administrative Officer at operational bases as well as staff appointments at headquarters. All the affected officers are from the flying branch, specially the transport wing and include pilots as well as navigators.

Citing the example of the Chandigarh airbase, sources said that as many as six posts were left vacant here when the notification terminating the services of re-employed officers on expiry of their stipulated tenure became effective on January 1, 2000.

‘’This has left a vacuum which we are trying to fill,’’ a senior IAF officer commented. Sources reveal that officers holding the requisite rank are being pulled out of operational squadrons or other sections, which in turn affects the concerned squadron or the section’s functioning. ‘’The posts vacated need to be held by experienced officers who have the ability to deal with high-level planning and functioning. You cannot appoint youngsters here and there are only a limited number of senior officers at a station,’’ he added.

This situation arose when the IAF decided not to grant service extension to re-employed officers from the flying branch on account of non-availability of suitable vacancies following the two-year service extension. There are a total of 325 re-employed officers in the IAF. While re-employed officers can serve up to the age of 56 years, subject to annual renewal of their service contract, some of them still have age in their favour.

Significantly, this decision comes in the backdrop of the IAF still facing an officer shortage and an increasing number of pilots as well as ground duty officers, particularly in the junior rung, seeking premature retirement. ‘’Transport squadrons are currently functioning with 85 per cent to 90 per cent of their authorised pilot strength,’’ an IAF officer said. While some of the affected officers were on active flying duties in transport squadrons, others were holding ground duty posts which only flying branch officers are authorised to hold.

“There are some of us who are keen to carry on in the IAF while others want to quit,’’ a re-employed officer said. Pointing out a case of a young officer in the city who wants to quit but is unable to get his release, he added: ‘’There appears to be no logic in terminating the services of those willing to serve and refusing to release those who want to quit.’’

While regular IAF officers, as in the other two services, were granted an across the board two-year extension in service, the extension was not applicable to re-employed officers in all three services as the Defence Ministry stated that a separate notification would be issued for them. This is still being awaited.

While re-employed officers in the Army have been retiring after completion of their respective service tenures, this is the first batch of IAF re-employed officers to retire after the two-year extension came through. The tenure of another 88 re-employed IAF officers will expire on June 30 this year and sources say that their service is also not expected to be extended.

Meanwhile, re-employed officers in service are still awaiting pay fixation as per revised post-Fifth Pay Commission scales. They continue to draw salaries based on the Fourth Pay Commission, which are about one-third of those being drawn by regular officers. Besides putting them at a financial disadvantage vis-a-vis regular officers of equivalent rank, it has affected other allowances, specially TA/DA.

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