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The armed forces: A glorious career

Indian armed forces render invaluable service to the nation, both in times of war and peace. Though their prime task is defending our nation against external aggression, many times it is called to restore internal strife and help in natural calamities.

Service in the armed forces demands spirit of adventure as well as unflinching loyalty and integrity for the nation and readiness to lay down ones life when required. Work involves defending territorial, coastal and air space of the country against all external and internal threats. It also involves human resource management and continuous development of leadership qualities alongwith on-the-job training to achieve the required perfection.

Indian Armed Forces have a reputation of being one of the finest in the world and offer a very challenging and attractive career for Indian youth (both men and women). Indian armed forces, after induction, impart required training to ensure that individual becomes fully capable of handling difficult and complex situations arising in operational and administrative spheres.

Nature of work in armed forces is diverse and also demands serving in most difficult terrain and weather conditions throughout the country, and hence there is a need of constant physical fitness of the highest order.

The three branches

The Indian Army: The Indian Army is responsible for defending the territorial integrity of the country against all external aggression and internal disturbances.During a war, army is responsible to protect the nation against external aggression and during peace it helps in maintenance of law and order.

The army is mainly divided into combat arms and services. The combat arms are the infantry, the artillery, and the armoured corps (The Corps of Engineers and Corps of Signals). Services include Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps, Army Postal Services, Army Medical Corps, Army Education Corps, and Intelligence Corps.

Combat arms are responsible for actual combat, whereas, services ensure continuous flow of required ordinance including food, fuel for vehicles and tanks and ammunition.

The Indian Navy: The Indian Navy is responsible for defending the extensive coastline of the country in times of war and peace. The navy is also responsible for safeguarding our maritime interests including defence of off-shore oil and gas installations, coastal shipping and fisheries rights’, and to protect the vital trade links. The Navy has three main branches.

  • The Executive Branch that manages the navy's warships and submarines as instruments of tactical warfare.
  • The Engineering Branch is responsible for the maintenance and service of engineering equipment and the propulsion systems on board including electrical and electronic systems, weapon systems, missiles, radar, and radio communication systems.
  • The Education Branch ensures that the officers and men are updated.

The Indian Air Force: The Indian Air Force is responsible for the air defence of the country, ensuring both offensive and defensive roles. It is also responsible for the air defence of vital installations of strategic importance to the country. The Air force is divided into three main branches.

  • The Flying Branch includes Fighter Pilots who fly combat or fighter planes carrying ammunition and missiles; Transport Pilots who fly planes which carry men and materials, and Helicopter Pilots who provide air support to a moving army, or are used for para-dropping men and supplies.
  • The Technical Branch which includes engineering sections and is responsible for the engineering equipment and weapons systems of the air force.
  • The Administrative Branch includes all the departments that provide logistical, meteorological, educational and administrative support to the flying and technical branches.

There are a number of types of entries in the Armed Forces in India. Basic Entry for all the three forces is through National Defence Academy (NDA). Entries are at 10+2 Level, after graduation and after professional courses (graduate /post graduate level).

General eligibility conditions demand that a candidate must be - a citizen of India (subjects of Bhutan, Nepal, Tibetan refugees or migrants from the rest of the Indian subcontinent with the intention of settling permanently in India can also apply). In addition, candidates must be physically fit in accordance with the prescribed physical standards. They should be unmarried males or females. There is a Women's Special Entry Scheme (officers) for women graduates in specified subjects who are between the age of 19-27.

Entry to the Armed Forces

Candidates in the age group 16½ - 19 and having completed 10+2 can appear for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam called the National Defence Academy / Naval Academy Exam. This is meant for entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA). The exam is held every six months at various centers in India. Individuals faring well in this exam are called for a Services Selection Board (SSB) interview which lasts for three to four days Admission to NDA provides entry to all three wings of the armed forces for permanent commission.

Individuals between the age of 19 and 22 and having a three year Bachelor’s degree can appear for the Combined Defense Services Exam (CDSC), which is held every 6 months at various centers in India. An SSB interview and a medical examination follows. Su ccessful candidates are admitted to Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun for Army; the Naval Academy, Goa, for Indian Navy and the Air Force Academy, Hyderabad, for Air Force as permanent commission officers. Short service commission officers are trained in the Officer’s Training School.

All three services can be joined after completion of technical education i.e. Engineering Degree. Individuals having an engineering degree can apply for direct commission. He can directly appear for the SSB interview and medical exam

Army Medical Corps, which serves all three services, can be joined after completion of MBBS degree, either through Armed Forces Medical College or from any other medical college.

Training for the defence services automatically qualifies students to become full-fledged officers of the service to which they are appointed. They are guaranteed a job, along with all the perks and allowances, many of which continue even after retirement. Jobs in the Defence services involve a great deal of power and authority, though there are frequent transfers. Competent officers always have a chance of being promoted to senior positions over the years.

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