Women to get combat role, says army chief
New Delhi, June 4 (PTI): The Indian Army is set to open up combat positions for women, a gender barrier only a few countries have broken.
Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat said the process to allow women in a combat role, now an exclusive domain of men, was moving fast, adding that women would initially be recruited for the military police.
"I am looking at women coming as jawans. I am going to start it soon. Firstly, we will start with women as military police jawans," he said.
Women are now allowed in select areas, including in the medical, legal, educational, signals and engineering wings of the army, but not in combat roles because of operational concerns and logistical issues.
Rawat said he was ready to recruit women as jawans and the matter was being taken up with the government. "We have already started the process," he told PTI in an exclusive interaction recently.
Women, he added, will have to show grit and strength in taking up challenges in combat roles and shattering the glass ceiling.
Very few countries, including Germany, Australia, Canada, the US, Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden and Israel, have allowed women in combat roles.
The roles of military police include policing cantonments and army establishments, preventing breach of rules and regulations by soldiers, maintaining movement of soldiers as well as logistics during peace and war, handling prisoners of war and extending aid to civil police whenever required.
The air force had last year inducted three women as fighter pilots after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis. A decision on having women as fighter pilots will be taken after evaluating the performance of the trio, now part of the IAF's fighter squadron.
The navy is deliberating on a policy on having women on board ships.