The Army will definitely witness an increase in the number of female officers in the coming years, but it was not yet ready to cast women in combat roles, the Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, said on Friday.

“You will see an increase in the role of women in the armed forces. But we are not yet ready for them in front-line combat roles. Facilities for that need to be created from within and the women need to be prepared to face up to that kind of hardships,” said Gen. Rawat, speaking on the sidelines of the passing out parade of the 135th course at the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Khadakwasla here.

The Army chief said that it was pointless comparing the culture here to that of the Western nations which was much more open. “While we may be [culturally and socially] more open in our big cities, our Army personnel do not come from the big cities alone. Large numbers come from the rural areas where the intermingling between genders is still not there,” he said.

At the same time, the Army chief pointed out that there were several fields within the Army where women could be inducted, adding the Army was contemplating setting up a Permanent Commission for women in the forces.

“We require continuity and permanency in certain fields and male officers do not fit the bill everywhere in a command-oriented army. The force needs language interpreters given that military diplomacy is gaining currency. So, we are looking at women interpreters who will naturally be linguistically proficient and militarily sound,” he said.