NEW DELHI: In a major step to increase role of women in armed forces, the NDA government is going to allow lady officers to command battalions in army’s branches such as aviation, engineers and signal.
The government is planning to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court where it will say that women officers joining the force from 2015-16 onwards would be nurtured to command battalions, highly placed Army sources said here on Sunday. The women officers would be allowed to compete with their male counterparts to be eligible to head the units, they said.
The women officers would be given some relaxation in terms of physical standards but otherwise they would have to go through same regimen as male officers, the sources said. The women officers are so far allowed only in non-combat operations and are not allowed to command units.
The women officers were first inducted in the 1993 and have been now cleared to join the force as permanent commission officers in select branches such as legal, ordnance and supply corps, where they would not have to get into armed combat. Women have been allowed to join the medical arm of the armed forces even during the pre-independence days.
As and when the women officers get to command Indian Army units, it will be a break from long-standing tradition. This is feasible by the year 2032 when the women officers being inducted now could have the requisite number of years in service to become Colonels and be eligible to command the units, the sources added. The move is based on a recommendation from the Army and the defence ministry had okayed the proposal, beginning with women officers who join as fresh recruits in 2015 and beyond.
Women officers are still not allowed to serve on operational warships or fly fighter jets or to join the infantry, artillery, combat engineers or armoured corps, the four main fighting arms of the Indian Army. The 13.1-lakh strong Indian armed forces have about 2,250 women in its officer cadre.