Armed forces in the country were facing a shortage of around 13,000 officers and 53,700 personnel below the rank of officers, Defence Minister A K Antony said on Monday.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha to a question on shortage of manpower in armed forces, Mr. Antony said that the Army accounted for a majority of shortage of manpower.

“Some of the major reasons for vacancies in the Armed Forces include accretion in force level from time to time, availability of multiple and lucrative alternative career avenues with the growth of nation’s economy, stringent selection criteria and difficult service conditions coupled with perceived high degree of risk,’’ he said.

Giving details of vacancies in each of the three Services, Mr. Antony said while the Army was short of 10,100 officers till July this year, the shortage of Personnel Below Officers Rank (PBOR) stood at 32,431 till September this year.

On the other hand, Navy was facing shortage of 1,996 officers against its required strength while the shortage of sailors was 14,310 till September-end.

In the Indian Air Force (IAF), the shortage of officers was put at 962, while it needed around 7,000 airmen till this December.

On steps taken by government to encourage youths to join the armed forces, Mr. Antony said that various measures such as recruitment rallies and media campaigns have been conducted.

“Further, the government has taken various steps to make armed forces jobs attractive for youngsters. These include implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission with improved pay structure, additional family accommodation through Married Accommodation Project (MAP) and improvement in promotion prospects in the Armed Forces,’’ he told the House.

On the number of cadets passing out of various academies, he said that a total of 9,001 cadets had passed out since 2010. At the same time, around 10,800 service personnel have taken premature retirement from the services this year alone, he added. In the Army, 10,081 personnel opted for early retirement, while the number for the Navy and the Air Force was 170 and 571, respectively.

Last year, 10,603 Army personnel left the force and the figure stood at 157 and 1,000 for the Navy and the Air Force respectively, Mr. Antony informed.

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