Army commanders favour permanent commission for women


New Delhi : Opening up more avenues for women in the Indian Army, its top commanders Thursday recommended permanent commissions to lady officers in more branches.

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The army commanders agreed that the lady officers will be given permanent commission in more branches including the judge advocate general (JAG) and education.

“The issue (about the permanent commission to women) was discussed thoroughly at the ongoing commanders conference and they decided concurrently that permanent commission for women should be extended to more branches,” an army official said.

Women are currently eligible for permanent commission only in the medical, nursing and dental services of the armed forces. They are also eligible for short service commission in these services as also in the support non-combatant arms of the armed forces.

Currently, 5,137 women officers serve in the armed forces. They include 4,101 in the army, 784 in the air force, and 252 in the navy.

The recommendation will go to the Chief of Staff Committee which, after discussions with the Indian Air Force and Navy, will send the proposal to the defence ministry.

The decision of the army commanders follows the assurance given by Defence Minister A.K. Antony to Rajya Sabha that “the ministry will look into the aspect of granting permanent commissions to women in the non-combatant stream to begin with.”

However, the commanders have unanimously decided against granting permanent commission to women in the combatant role.

In the army, women serve in support arms like the Corps of Signals, Army Ordnance Corps, the Corps of Electronic and Mechanical Engineers, and the Army Service Corps.

In the air force, women are inducted in all streams, barring the fighter stream. In the navy, there are restrictions on posting women officers aboard ships and submarines.

Most militaries worldwide induct women but only a few allow them to perform active combat roles. Among these countries are Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland.

Countries like Britain and Israel allow women to serve in combat arms like the artillery but exclude them from infantry units. The US allows women in most combat flying positions.