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India appoints first female naval commanding officer

The move comes as part of a drive to increase female representation in the country’s armed forces

India has, for the first time, appointed a woman to command a ship as part of an ongoing drive to increase female representation in its armed forces, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said on Friday.

According to a report by The Indian Express on Saturday, the unnamed officer, a lieutenant commander, will take charge of the INS Trinkat, a patrol vessel designed for anti-poaching and counter-insurgency operations in coastal areas and within India’s exclusive economic zone.

The female officer, previously a qualified navigation instructor responsible for training new navy inductees, has yet to formally assume command of the ship, the publication also said. The appointment comes as part of the Indian Navy’s ‘all roles-all ranks’ philosophy to increase the number of women in prominent positions in the maritime branch of the Indian Armed Forces.

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“It has been our effort to constantly challenge the status quo to ensure that the navy remains on an aspirational and dynamic trajectory into the future,” Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said at a Friday press conference ahead of India’s annual Navy Day on December 4.

Kumar added that the first collection of Agniveers (recruits) under the scheme graduated in March and that the cohort included “272 female trainees.” A second grouping had a total of 454 women, he said, and “with the third batch, which has just been inducted, we have now crossed over 1,000 women affiliates in the navy.”

Referencing instances of a Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean, Kumar said that the Indian navy will continue closely monitoring all regional activities. “Our ships, submarines, and aircraft have sustained a high operational tempo,” he said. This includes “military, diplomatic, constabulary and benign” roles in the strategic waters of the Indo-Pacific.

According to data submitted to India’s parliament last year, 10,493 women officers were serving in the Indian Armed Forces, including its medical services. The army had the highest female representation of officers at 1,705. Meanwhile, there were 1,640 women in the Indian Air Force and, at the time, another 559 in the navy.

December 02, 2023 at 10:58PM

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