NEW DELHI: The Indian Air Force has taken the lead towards gender equality yet again, with Wing Commander Anjali Singh becoming the nation’s first woman defence attaché at an Indian mission abroad.
So far all defence attachés, whether from the Army, Air Force or Navy, have only been male officers.
Wing Commander Singh has been posted at India’s embassy in Moscow and she took charge as deputy air attaché last Monday.
“Wing Commander Anjali Singh of the aeronautical engineering branch has been approved as deputy air attaché,” a defence source confirmed. She is expected to present her credentials in the next 10 days.
With her appointment, yet another area in the male-dominated defence services has opened up for women. The IAF has often led by example, becoming the first military service to open its fighting arm to women when it selected three female officers to become fighter pilots.
The Navy has also started the process of identifying women officers for appointments in Indian missions abroad.
“The Navy has identified positions where women officers can be posted and the shortlisting is in progress,” two Navy sources confirmed.
As for the Army, the appointment of women attachés is expected to take time. This is because most of the positions are Colonel-rank and above and women officers are only now beginning to become Colonels.
“It will take some time before a woman Army officer is posted as an Army attaché. They have to complete their command tenure before becoming eligible,” a senior officer said.
The process of appointing women defence attachés was started by Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman when she was defence minister.
Attachés play a crucial role in the country’s military diplomacy. There are 95 countries where India has defence attachés, including deputies.
At some embassies, there are officers from all three services. They assist in defence cooperation, training, procurement and security among others.
The numbers of women officers and percentage compared to male officers in the three services of armed forces are as under:
- Army: (excluding the Medical, Dental and MNS officers)- 1561/41074 (3.89%)
- Navy: (including Medical & Dental officers)- 644/10652 (6.7%)
- Air Force: (excluding Medical & Dental branch)- 1594/10781 (13.28%)