Army Readies to Induct First Women Soldiers by End of Year, 4 Lady Instructors to Train the First Batch

New Delhi: Indian Army has handpicked four lady officers including Lt Col Nandani to train the first batch of women soldiers who will be inducted into the military police by year-end or early next year.

The Colonel Commandant of the Military Police, Lt Gen Ashwani has interviewed Lt Col Nandani in Srinagar for the role of the instructor of the first-ever batch of women soldiers for the Army.

There will be more women officers as instructors including Maj Julie who was the instructor to the first batch of women constables in Assam Rifles.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat had earlier announced that women soldiers will be inducted into combat roles on priority after facing criticism that women were being kept away.

The women Corps of Military Police (CMP) batch, whose prime responsibility will be policing army cants, will see a hundred women jawans being recruited. Presently, the Army, Navy and Air Force have only women officers, not jawans. Women soldiers are presently under the selection process from thousands of volunteers across the nation and the training of the selected 100 is likely to start in December in Bangaluru.

Duration of the training will be for 61 weeks just as male soldiers in the spirit that they are 'soldiers first'. The maximum cadre strength of the women contingent not going to exceed 1700.

The Ministry of Defence has given nod for inducting women in all ten branches of the Army, but combat roles still remain off-limits.

The army chief Gen Bipin Rawat had kicked up controversy during an interview to CNN-News18 when he had said that the Army is not ready for women in combat roles. He had listed reasons like women having the responsibility of raising kids and a woman officer would feel uncomfortable at the frontline and accuse jawans of peeping as she changes clothes.

The defence establishment feels inducting women jawans in the CMP will iron out logistical and psychological barriers and lay ground for a greater role for women in the armed forces.

The Indian Air Force flew right through the glass ceiling and inducted three women fighter pilots in 2016. The number if women fighter pilots have now risen to eight. IAF has 13 per cent women representation while the Navy has six per cent. Army has a dismal four percent women in its ranks.