The army has decided to increase the intake of cadets at its premier training institute, the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul — by around one third, which means a potential increase its (army’s) size.
During his visit to PMA Kakul earlier yesterday, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif reviewed the progress in this regard.
“The visit focused on reviewing the current training regime for cadets and PMA’s capacity enhancement projects including progress work on the 4th Pakistan Battalion,” a statement by the ISPR said.
The PMA, which currently has three battalions, annually inducts two batches of around 500 cadets each. The addition of a fourth battalion would mean that up to 150 more cadets would be inducted in each batch.
The cadets after completing their training at the academy are commissioned in the army as officers. The increase in officer cadre is expected to lead to a proportional increase in the number of troops.
No timeline was given for the setting up of the new battalion at PMA, but insiders say the academy could be ready for the increased intake within 12-18 months.
Gen Sharif was quoted in the statement as having emphasised “the need to remain abreast with the latest regional and global environment and developments”.
A military analyst said that the increase in the size of military was being necessitated by its continuing involvement in tribal areas, where troops are expected to stay at least till 2019; the creation of a security division for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; and increased requirement of officers for paramilitary forces like Frontier Corps and Rangers. Additionally, troops are getting increasingly engaged with UN peacekeeping operations and disaster relief operations.
India’s aggressive posture towards Pakistan is also a cause of concern.
A military spokesman, meanwhile, said that the army was already facing a shortage of officers and the increased induction would help overcome that requirement.
The current size of the army is believed to be around 500,000 active troops. Army’s publicly known budget for the current fiscal year 2015-16 is Rs371 billion. The military’s budget has been on an average growing by around 11 per cent.