The Indian Armed Forces will soon witness a change in the retirement age, as the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has said on Tuesday that the extension of retirement age of the nearly 15 lakh Army jawans, Air Force’s  airmen and Navy sailors is on the anvil.

“We are soon bringing a policy to extend the service profile of the men (forces nomenclature for troops) and have an increased minimum retirement age,” said General Bipin Rawat in an exclusive interaction with The Tribune on May 12.

“I am looking at manpower costs. Why should a jawan serve for just 15 or 17 years, why cannot he serve for 30 years? We are losing trained manpower,” said the CDS in reply to a query that if he was thinking of reducing the manpower costs with the salaries and pensions digging in a large chunk of the budget.

General Rawat justified the rise in retirement age and said that the combat force would remain young and changes could be implemented in the other units like, “We have an Army Medical Corps, why can’t the nursing assistant serve till 50 years of age?”

Earlier, in February he had said that the “Indian armed forces are at the cusp of transformation… If we look at the future of warfare, then the military has to grow. Our priority is quality, not quantity,” he said.

General Rawat had also talked about plans to have an air defence command as well as a separate logistics command. “The focus will be to ensure better utilisation of resources,” he said.

CDS General Rawat had reiterated that the armed forces are ready to deal with any challenge along the borders with China as well as Pakistan.

General Bipin Rawat had courted controversy with his “political” criticism of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, a few months back.

“Leadership is all about leading. When you move forward, everybody follows… But leaders are those who lead people in the right direction. Leaders are not those people who lead people in inappropriate directions, as we are witnessing in a large number of university and college students, the way they are leading masses of crowds to carry out arson and violence in our cities and towns. This is not leadership,” he had said.

In a landmark decision to bring in reforms in higher defence management in the country, the government approved the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in the rank of a four-star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief. Former Army chief, Gen Bipin Rawat, is the country’s first CDS and also heads the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), which has been created within the Ministry of Defence and function as its ex-officio Secretary.