The Supreme Court’s green signal allowing women officers in the Indian Army to hold commanding positions and get a permanent commission will now raise women to positions which they were earlier barred from.
Here’s a lowdown on how the apex court’s order will change women’s role in the Army and what positions they can expect:
What will it mean for women in the Army?
Earlier, women were recruited in the Indian Army only as Short Service Commission (SSC) officers only for a period of 10 years, which can be extended to four more years. Now, with the Supreme Court order, women will get permanent commission under which they can serve until retirement. The Supreme Court has also clarified that both the permanent commission and introduction of women in commanding roles, will include all women officers, irrespective of their years of service.
Women can now be appointed as colonels and hold higher posts in the Army Service Corps, Education Corps, Ordnance, Engineering branch, Intelligence and Electrical and Mechanical Engineering and as Judge Advocate General.
A colonel can command a battalion, and later be promoted into a brigadier, a major general, a lieutenant general and most possibly the Chief of Army Staff. It is, however, difficult for women to rise up to the latter as it needs experience in multiple combat formations.
The Supreme Court’s order, however, doesn’t apply to women’s participation in combat. They are still out of the ambit of infantry, artillery and armoured corps. The Indian Air Force broke tradition in 2015 by opening opportunities for women in combat roles as fighter pilots.
The Centre earlier gave the permanent commission to women officers in branches like signals, engineers, army aviation, army air defence, electronics and mechanical engineers, army service corps, army ordnance corps and intelligence.
Who is a commanding officer?
A commanding officer (CO) is the head of a military unit. Any incumbent general officer from the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, who has 10 and half years of administrative, operational and logistic experience can be given the post of CO and henceforth, will be responsible for the unit. The CO has the ultimate authority over the unit and can operate it as they find fit within the military law. This includes the use of force, finance and equipment.
The CO can be made of the head of any unit in the seven commands of the Indian Army. Further, these commands can be sub-divided into Army Training Commands located in Shimla, Army Corps, Division, Brigade, Battalion, Rifle Company, Platoon and Section.