Decision soon on permanent commission for women in armed forces

September 24th, 2008 - 4:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) The defence ministry will shortly take a decision on granting the much-awaited permanent commission for women in the armed forces, a senior defence official said Wednesday.The top brass of the armed forces have already agreed on opening up more avenues for women officers and granting them permanent commission in non-combatant branches.

“The decision to grant permanent commission to women has been agreed in principle and the announcement will be made very shortly,” the official told IANS adding that an announcement on this is likely within this month.

The Chiefs of Staff Committee has approved the recommendations of the three wings of the armed forces to grant permanent commissions to women and has sent this to the defence ministry for approval.

“Many meetings have taken place to discuss the modalities of the issue. As there is no need for the matter to be sent to the cabinet, the defence minister is soon going to make an announcement in this regard,” the official added.

After the decision is taken, it will take at least four years - the time spent on training - for the first permanent commission women officers to be inducted in the armed forces.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony had assured the Rajya Sabha earlier this year that “the ministry will look into the aspect of granting permanent commissions to women in the non-combatant stream to begin with”.

Women are currently eligible for a permanent commission only in the medical, nursing and dental services of the armed forces. They are also eligible for short service commissions in these services, as also in the supporting but 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.

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, while in the navy, there are restrictions on posting women officers aboard ships and submarines.

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 roles.

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