Monday, November 17, 2014





If you are thinking of joining the Armed Forces (Army, Navy or Air Force), you must be clear that one of the “occupational hazards” of military life is EARLY RETIREMENT.

In most jobs you retire at the age of 60.

Sometimes the retirement age is 65 or 70 if you are a Professor or a Judge or if you are a lucky Bureaucrat who has managed to get an “extension” or a cushy post retirement job.

In some vocations, like business and politics, you never retire, and you can keep on working incessantly till your death.

However, if you happen to serve in the defence services, in the army, navy or air force, you retire early. 

If you are an officer, it is most likely you will retire on superannuation at the age of 54 – a few lucky ones may pull on to 56.

Only those who attain Flag Rank (and become Generals, Admirals or Air Marshals) can remain in service beyond that age and retire at 58 or 60 like their civilian counterparts. 

However, owing to the steep pyramidal hierarchical organisational structure a very small percentage get promoted to flag rank.

In the civil services you have Assured Career Progression or ACP (and Non Functional Upgradation or NFU).

In the defence services, owing to the poor career prospects due to the high possibility of supersession and consequent early retirement, you have Assured Career Truncation or ACT.

I do not have the exact figures, but from what I have observed, it seems that hardly 1% of the officers who join finally get promoted to flag rank in the defence services.

Whereas in the civil services, almost everyone becomes a Joint Secretary (equivalent to flag rank) before he or she retires.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen retire much earlier – most retire after 15 years service at the prime of their life, in their mid thirties at around 35 years of age. 

It is not feasible to “settle” your children and complete your familial responsibilities at this young age, so they have no choice and have to take up a second career in the “civvy street”.

Officers are caught midway as their superannuation age is in their fifties (mostly 54 or 56). 

Whereas soldiers, sailors and airmen who retire in their 30’s have no choice but to take up a second career after superannuation to make both ends meet, military officers who retire in their mid 50’s can avoid having to slog at a second career in civilian life if they plan their lives properly.


If you want to truly “retire” on your superannuation date, then you must ensure that all your domestic commitments and familial obligations are complete well before you are 54 years of age.  

You must have your own “retirement home” to live in and you must have enough savings to lead a decent retired life in these days of burgeoning inflation. 

And of course, most importantly, your children should have completed their studies and your children must be settled in life, in their careers, and preferably in their married life too.

If you can achieve all this before you retire, then you can indulge in the luxury of “doing nothing” after retirement, and lead a truly blissful retired life.

Now, how can you achieve this?

If you are in the Navy (or Army or Air Force) it is best not to marry

If you are a bachelor you will be well looked after by the service

But if you do want to get married, please marry early and have all your children as early as possible.

Calculating backwards, all your children must be settled in life by the time you reach the retirement age of 54.

This means that you must have all your kids before you reach the age of 30 (assuming that your youngest kid will complete his or her education and get a job by the age of 24).

This is the best case optimistic scenario assuming that your children study well and are good at academics.

So you must get married at the stipulated age of 25 (or even earlier if possible). 

Yes, Army, Navy and Air Force Officers must get married as early as possible

And they must have all their children as early as possible too.

Remember that for every child you have after you are 30 you are putting pressure on your retired life and you may not be able to afford the luxury of “doing nothing” after retirement.

Some officers marry late or have children late in life. 

I have seen a situation where children were still in school when an officer retired at the age of 54 (this officer got married at 40 and had kids when he was in his 40’s). 

The poor guy had no choice but to take up a job and spend many years of his retired life slogging it out in the “civvy street”.

Of course, if you are married to a “career woman” – then it is really great.

You can enjoy your retirement “doing nothing”  while your “breadwinner” wife “brings home the bacon” and “puts bread on the table” – to speak metaphorically.

In this respect, Lady Military Officers are luckier. 

At least in the contemporary societal context in India where the concept of a “homemaker husband” is yet to take root, a lady officer is likely to be married to a “career man” and has the luxury of choosing when to “retire” and enjoy the bliss of “doing nothing”

It makes sense for lady officers of the army, navy and air force to marry civilians who will keep working till 60. 

Of course, even for gentlemen military officers who choose to marry a career women, it is better to marry someone outside the military profession, at least from the retirement point of view – your career wife will retire at 60, or later, and be a cushion for your retired life

The moral of the story is that military officers are at a disadvantage vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts as far as retirement age is concerned.

If you are a civilian officer, you will retire at 60, or later, and by that age all your familial commitments are likely to be over and you can look forward to a blissful retired life with a higher pension too, due to the additional years of service you enjoy vis-à-vis your disadvantaged military counterpart.

There is great advantage for a defence service officer to marry a lady officer from the civil services (IAS, IPS, IRS, IES, IDAS etc) so that he can continue to enjoy benefits and perks of his spouse for a number of years after his own retirement.

Dear Reader, if you are a military officer, or are planning to join the army, navy or air force, remember that you are going to retire early.

It will be good if you can plan your life accordingly so that you can enjoy the indulgence of “doing nothing” after your retirement.

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