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Women fighter pilots (from left) Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi, already inducted in Indian Air Force.

Pune 20 July 2017 (PCP NEWS DELHI) : The Indian Army is considering to deploy woman officers in combat roles especially in counter insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and in the North East where women have been used as shield by the militants to disrupt counter terror operations.

Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, who had earlier said that he was considering opening more avenues for women officers in the Indian Army, will be given the possible options. The Army has been asked to look at areas where woman officers can be deployed and Integrated HQ Of MOD specifically talks about deploying women in Counter Insurgency operations. Instead of depending on Mahila Police Battalions (as with paramilitary forces) in CI ops for crowd control, the Army is now considering to have its own woman troops.

The doors to all male Indian Army was thrown open to women in the year 1993 when 1800 women candidates applied for just 50 vacancies and the number of woman candidates have grown steadily since then. At present there about 1500 women officers in Indian Army and they are deployed in support arms like the Judge Advocate General (JAG), Signals Corps and Army Supply Corps, and Education Corps Education and Medical Corps.

The Indian Air Force has already allowed women pilots to fly fighters jets. The first batch of fighters pilots are undergoing their training. Earlier, women pilots of the IAF were only allowed to fly helicopters and transport aircraft. The Indian Navy too has woman officers however the woman officers are not deployed on-board warships because warships don’t have separate living quarters for women. Woman officers in Indian Navy are deployed for warship design, air traffic control and other non-combat duties. As against a sanctioned strength of about 14- 18 officers for every infantry battalion there are only 8-10 officers available. As a result training and men-officer relation, crucial for war fighting, has been suffering. The Indian Army has shortfall of about 8000 officers.

“Women officers can surely be deployed as Quarter Masters or Adjutants – the lynch pin – in Infantry battalions, there is a huge shortfall of officers in the Indian Army,” a senior serving officer of Indian Army who didn’t want to be identified told the Correspondent of PCP News. The Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence has asked all wings of the Army to come up with suggestions for roles for women officers by July 31, 2017. PCP/DJ 11 30

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