The threat of women officers being taken as prisoners of war (PoW) is one of the reasons why they have not been given combat roles, Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor has said.

“Certain issues that we may have to consider include the fact that they can become prisoners of war, which is an undeniable hazard of combat,” he said in an interview to the first edition of the ‘Defence Yearbook 2009-2010.’

He said that another reason was that the living conditions could be harsh, even without basic amenities.

“Notwithstanding the above, the government did meet the aspirations of the women officers (WOs), seeking Permanent Commission in the Army, albeit in a defined area,” Gen. Kapoor said.

“There has been progressive expansion in the profile of women in the Army. The government orders, issued in 2008, offered permanent commission prospectively to WOs to be commissioned in Judge Advocate General (JAG) and Army Education Corps (AEC) of the Army. No further role is presently envisaged for WOs.” However, he said women officers performed their duties well.

When asked about the tension between India and Pakistan over the Mumbai terror attacks, the Army Chief said: “The Army is fully prepared to counter any threat along the IndiaPakistan border. We are closely monitoring the current situation and have taken all measures to deal with any operational contingency that may arise.”

On whether transfer of about 4,000 troops to raise National Security Guard (NSG) hubs in four metros would be a burden on the Army, he said: “Shortage of officers does make it a little difficult to provide the leadership required. However, we are examining the issue in its entirety and are in dialogue with Home Ministry and Ministry of Defence to arrive at the most optimal solution.”

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