Nearly Half Retire; Similar Number Go AWOL
The real size of Nepal’s Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army will never be known with certainty. After the 2006 cease-fire, Maoist leaders actively recruited new soldiers with promises of jobs in the national army as called for in the agreement.
Bolstered by the new recruits, more than 32 thousand men and women showed up at the newly created cantonments for the first UN count.
A verification count the following year found fewer than 24,000 remaining in the camps.
In 2009, more than four thousand combatants were disqualified for being under-age or for not being legitimate fighters.
As negotiations about the combatants’ fate dragged on, their numbers shrank again. In 2011 the remaining 17 thousand were asked to choose a retirement package or integration in the Nepal Army.
Forty-three percent opted for a retirement package of about $6,000 for enlisted ranks. 9,700 chose integration.
Nine months later two-thirds of the ex-PLA chose retirement, as political wrangling about their fate continued, and they became disenchanted with their own leadership.
The Army’s insistence on accepting only officer candidates who could have qualified prior to their PLA time caused officers who had improved their educational level since joining the PLA to retire.
By summer 2012 another 1,500 had retired, and there were 100 no-shows for the written Army entrance exam.
Virtually all of the candidates passed the written exam and went on to the physical exam.
Fewer Than Five Percent to Join Nepal Army
With only a few candidates failing the physical, some 1,400 ex PLA soldiers are ready to enter the national army. There is an oral screening, but very few failures or further retirements are likely.