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Woman in Combat Roles

  • 26 Apr 2019
  • 4 min read

Recently, the Indian army has invited applications from eligible women candidates for recruitment of Soldier in Women Military Police.

  • Army has an eventual aim to constitute 20% of the military police cadre from their ranks.
  • The armed forces have till now inducted women only as officers and have not allowed them to join the “fighting arms” like the infantry, armored corps, and artillery or serve on operational warships.

Women in Defense Forces

  • The government had announced that women would be inducted as soldiers or Personnel Below Officer Rank (PBOR) in the military police from 2019 onwards.
  • Currently, only Indian Air Force inducts women in a combat role as fighter pilots.
  • The Air Force has 13.09% of women officers, the highest among all three forces.
  • The Army has 3.80% of women officers, while the Navy has 6% of women officers.

Cons of Women in Combat Role

  • Physical Ability: While the majority of jobs in the armed forces are open equally to men and women, there are some to which women are just not physically suited.
    • The standards of physical fitness have been set to suit men, and women attempting to reach them will over-stretch themselves.
  • Morale & Cohesion: Having women serving in direct combat will hamper mission effectiveness by hurting unit morale and cohesion.
  • Military readiness: Pregnancy can affect the deployability of a unit when the unit has a disproportionate number of women or is understaffed.
  • Tradition: Men, especially those likely to enlist, maintain traditional gender roles. Harassment and resentment of the presence of women in a hyper-masculine military subculture would likely become a problem.
  • Abuse by Enemy: Both male and female prisoners are at risk of torture and rape, but misogynistic societies may be more willing to abuse women prisoners.

Pros of Women in Combat Role

  • Gender is not a hindrance: As long as an applicant is qualified for a position, one’s gender is arbitrary. It is easy to recruit and deploy women who are in better shape than many men sent into combat.
  • Military Readiness: Allowing a mixed gender force keeps the military strong. The armed forces are severely troubled by falling retention and recruitment rates. This can be addressed by allowing women in the combat role.
  • Effectiveness: The blanket restriction for women limits the ability of commanders in theater to pick the most capable person for the job.
  • Tradition: Training will be required to facilitate the integration of women into combat units. Cultures change over time and the masculine subculture can evolve too.
  • Cultural Differences & Demographics: Women are more effective in some circumstances than men. Allowing women to serve doubles the talent pool for delicate and sensitive jobs that require interpersonal skills, not every soldier has.
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