In a first, 108 women officers to be Colonels, can lead Army units

Nearly 80 women officers of the Indian Army have been cleared so far for the rank of Colonel (selection grade), making them eligible to command units in their respective arms and services for the first time, according to media report.

The Women Officers Special No. 3 Selection Board proceedings, which began January 9, are currently underway at Army headquarters for promotion from the rank of Lt Colonel to Colonel to bring them on a par with their male counterparts.

As many as 244 women officers are being considered for promotion against 108 vacancies – from the batch of 1992 to 2006 – in various arms and services, including Engineers, Signals, Army Air Defense, Intelligence Corps, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps and Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

“On the culmination of the selection board, the 108 women officers declared fit will be under consideration for various command assignments. The first set of such postings will be issued by the end of January,” sources said.

“With an aim to provide equal opportunities to women, the Indian Army has granted Permanent Commission (PC) to women officers on a par with their male counterparts,” a source said, adding that with the grant of PC, women officers are preparing to assume challenging leadership roles, akin to their male counterparts with higher ranks and responsibility.

At present, all women officers granted PC are undergoing special training courses and challenging military assignments to empower them for higher leadership roles in the Army, and PC to women officers in junior batches has also started – they are considered for PC in their 10th year of service.

Recently, for the first time, five women officers cleared the prestigious Defense Services Staff Course (DSSC) and Defense Services Technical Staff Course (DSTSC) exams, held annually in September. They will undergo a year-long course which will have weightage while being considered for command appointments.

While women are still not eligible for pure combat arms such as Infantry, Mechanized Infantry and Armored Corps, the Army recently decided to induct women into the Corps of Artillery, a combat support arm. The proposal is currently awaiting government approval.

Women officers are already part of various aviation units. The Army earlier opened its soldier ranks to women in the Corps of Military Police.


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