How can civilians in India help the Indian Army?

Did you always dream of joining the armed forces but somehow missed the bus?

Are you a physically fit young person who dreams of supporting the Indian Army?

If our country does go to war, would you enlist?

Consider joining the Indian Territorial Army, if your answer to both the questions is a resounding “Yes”.

Wait a minute! But, what exactly is Territorial Army? How is it different from the Indian Army as we know it? Read on to know more.

What is the Territorial Army?

Savdhani Va Shoorta (Vigilance and Valour). That is the motto of the Terriers – the troops inducted into the Territorial Army of India. The Territorial Army (TA) is a second line of defence. It is a military force made up of volunteers who remain employed (in civilian capacity) in various professions for most part of the time, but receive military training for a few days on an annual basis. The TA can be called upon and mobilized in times of need and during war. The Indian Territorial Army was inaugurated on 9 October, 1949, by C Rajagopalachari, the first Governor-General of the country in keeping with the Independence Territorial Army Act of 1948.

Is the TA part of the Indian Army?

The Territorial Army is indeed part of the Indian Army. It is a support function and TA supports the Army services by freeing up the Army personnel from performing static duties and taking on civil administration in times of war and natural calamities. The TA officers also participate actively in rendering their services when called upon. For example, during the Latur Earthquake in Maharashtra the TA played an important role in rescue and rehabilitation. The Ecological units of the TA have been instrumental in combating environmental damage in places like Mussoorie, Chambal, Bikaner, and Pithorgarh by planting some 2.5 crore trees.

The TA is completely assimilated into regular Army units. The Territorial Army was actively involved in military operation when the country went to war in 1962, 1965, and in the year 1971. It also played an important role in Sri Lanka during ‘Operation Pawan’ and in other operations in Punjab, the north eastern states, and in Jammu and Kashmir. The TA is trained to take over key functions such as railways, IOC, and the General Hospitals of the country in case of an exigency.

Read : Indian Army Ranks and Recruitment Process

The Territorial Army has brought great pride to the nation and its personnel have received various awards and appreciation for their services. The TA Officers and men have received 2 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals (AVSM), 15 Vishisht Seva Medals (VSM), and 5 Vir Chakras, apart from being decorated with 13 Sena Medals and 43 Chief of Army Staff commendations.

Am I Eligible to Join the TA?

As of 2015, the eligibility criteria for candidates interested in joining the Territorial Army is as follows –

  • Only male citizens of India are eligible to join the TA
  • Ex-service officers are also considered eligible if they are physically fit and clear other criteria
  • Candidates must be between 18 and 42 years of age
  • Candidates must have gained a graduation degree from any of the recognized universities of India
  • Candidates must be gainfully employed in a government (central/state/PSU) job or in the private sector. Candidate may also be self-employed.

Candidates will be required to go through a written exam, which includes Mathematics, Reasoning, General Knowledge, and English questions. Those who manage to clear the written part of the exam will then be required to appear for a selection interview and clear a physical examination to determine fitness levels.

Serving members of the armed forces and paramilitary forces are not eligible to join the Territorial Army.

What Training Will I Have To Undergo?

Like in the Indian Army, physical fitness and being combat-ready are very important aspects of a Territorial Army Officer’s life. While maintaining one’s fitness levels is the Officer’s own prerogative, every recruit of the Territorial Army has to undergo mandatory training programs to remain effective in his role. These include:

– One month of basic training in the year he received his commission;
– Within the first two years following the commissioning, the Officer will be required to undergo three months of training at the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun;
– Each year, the Officer will also need to report for two months of training at an annual camp organized by the Territorial Army.

Will I Get to Wear the Army Uniform?

After a Territorial Army candidate is recruited and trained, he is granted commission in the rank of Lieutenant. Promotions, too, are similar (in ranks) to those of the Indian Army. The guidelines for the Territorial Army promotions are clearly laid down. From Lieutenant to Captain to Major to Lieutenant Colonel, the promotions are by time scale. Promotion to Colonel and Brigadier ranks are by selection.

Territorial Army Officers are treated as regular Army Officers during recruitment and training, as well as during combat. At these times the TA Officer will be required to wear his military uniform with regimental ensigns. Apart from this, the TA officer will also be required to wear the uniform when invited to witness a military parade, or to be present at an occasion where the other regimental officers are in attendance. In case a TA officer is summoned by a senior Army Officer, he will be required to wear his military uniform.

What Are My Benefits as a TA Officer?

TA officers receive the pay and allowances equal to that of regular Army Officers for the period of training and when embodied for military service. The prestige of being able to serve in the Army and the pride of serving the nation, however, remains priceless.

Celebrities in the Territorial Army

A number of celebrities have been granted commission and inducted into the Indian Territorial Army.

  • Mohan Lal, the famous south Indian actor and filmmaker was among the first to gain the rank of Lt Colonel
  • Kapil Dev, one of the top cricketers from India was also granted the honorary rank of Lt Colonel in the Territorial Army
  • Sachin Pilot, Indian politician and former Member of Parliament, was commissioned into the Indian Territorial Army
  • India’s cricketing sensation, MS Dhoni was also granted the honorary rank of Lt Colonel by the Indian Territorial Army
  • Olympics medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra was also inducted and received the honorary rank of Lt Colonel from the Indian Territorial Army
  • Serving BJP MP Anurag Thakur went through the due selection process and was commissioned into the Indian Territorial Army.

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