20 Afghan Soldiers, All Of Them Women, In India For Training

A group of 20 women from Afghanistan, who are serving in combat role in the army, are here for a military training programme, the first such exercise which has enthused their peers in India who too are keen to serve on the frontline.

The 20-day training programme began on December 4 at Officers Training Academy in Chennai, the sole centre training for gentlemen and lady cadets in India.

Two Indian Army women officers, who are coordinating the training, favoured allowing women in combat role. “Yes, I (will) definitely give a big yes…we should be given a fair opportunity in combat…all of us feel we could be in the forefront,” Major Sanjana JR told news agency PTI.

“If Afghan lady officers are serving their nation in combat, then why not the Indian Army, one of the largest armies in the world,” she added.

Major Sanjana, the instructor for the training programme for Afghan officers, was asked if the Indian army too should allow women officers in combat role. She said though women army officers were presently engaged in key support roles, they were actually not in the thick of combat. “Hopefully, we will be part of combat (in future),” said Captain Samriti, who is acting as an interpreter and coordinator for the programme.

It has been the wish of women officers to engage in combat to serve the nation, she added.

The training will end on December 23 and the Afghan officers will leave the next day, Captain Samriti said.

Though training sessions have been held in the past to enhance the skills of officers in other areas, this is the first time Afghanistan women officers are here for military training, she said.

Major Sanjana said the training programme is a “capsule” which encompasses major features of one year training. The Afghan women officers of various ranks are being trained in weaponry, firing, communication, tactics, administration and logistics.

In addition to this, they are being trained to use hand grenades, AK-47s and INSAS (Assault rifle) among others.

Today, media personnel were allowed to witness the women officers getting trained in handling the AK-47, in the OTA shooting range here at St Thomas Mount.

They also handled ambush situations in mountainous terrain through in class room simulation exercises. The women also underwent training in computer proficiency.

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