Indian Army to have first woman soldier by 2021

Army has selected 100 women to be trained

Women Army officers Representative image | PTI

In a major breakthrough, Indian Army has selected 100 women to be trained to join the Corps of Military Police. Till date, women were being inducted only as officers and this is the first time they will be joining the Army as soldiers. They will be in the "Personnel Below Officer Rank" (PBOR) category. Recruiting women in Military Police is seen as a huge step towards improving their representation in the armed forces.

"We have completed the selection process. More than 100 women from all over the country have been shortlisted to join the Corps of Military Police. The first batch of 100 women selected will start training in December," said Lt General Ashwani Kumar, who was the Adjutant General of the Indian Army till he superannuated on October 31.

It is learnt that the Indian Army is targeting to induct 100 women soldiers every year for the next 17 years to reach the mark of 1,700 women soldiers in the Military Police, as Army plans to deploy them in Kashmir Valley to tackle women protestors.

Corps of Military Police is the military police of the Indian Army, whose primary duty is to assist Army formations in maintaining a high-standard of discipline of its troops, prevent breaches of various rules and regulations and to assist in the preservation of high morale of all ranks of the formation. In addition, the CMP is trained to handle prisoners of war and to regulate traffic, as well as to handle basic telecommunication equipment such as telephone exchanges. And they can be identified by their red berets, white lanyards and belts. They also wear a black brassard with the letters MP imprinted in red.

“We have identified at least 10 units, where the first batch will be posted. Those units have started preparing infrastructure. It will take two years to train them similar to male soldiers. We have selected the first lot of 100. By the end of 2021, we will have the first batch of women in CMP," Lt Gen Kumar added.

Kumar said four women instructors, including a doctor and legal branch (Judge Advocate General) are posted at the CMP centre in Bengaluru. And the training pattern will be on the lines of Assam Rifles and Karnataka Women Police Battalion.

"The first woman officer who had trained the Assam Rifles is among the four instructors," Lt Gen Kumar said while adding that security and safety of women soldiers would be the top priority.

He said one of the four instructors would be present at the women's barracks all the time to ensure safety of women soldiers undergoing training.

When asked about the additional posts that have been created to accommodate women soldiers, the former AG denied of having any additional burden on Army's revenue budget.

"From every CMP unit, two males will be reduced and women will be posted. The Divisional Provost unit will have an entire section of women," he added.

On the issue of giving permanent commission to women officers at par with their male colleagues, Lt Gen Kumar said that the permanent commission would be open for women from April 2020. But they have to make up their mind after 2-3 years to identify one of the six streams like interpreter or air traffic controller so that it can be trained.

It is notable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his last year's Independence Day address to the nation, made a historic announcement by opening the door of permanent commissioning for women officers in the three services. Modi had said: “Women officers who have been selected through the Short Service Commission (SSC) in our defence forces will now have the option to take up permanent commission.” The move will affect the career prospect of nearly 3,700 women officers in all three services as so far women officers are allowed in the service for a tenure of 5 to 14 years. Permanent commission will allow them to serve till the age of retirement, equivalent to their male colleagues.