India is going to post women officers as defence attaches in its overseas missions for the first time in history. The government took the decision early this year and asked the three Services to identify women officers who could fill the posts. The first project is slated to be between Europe and America.

Defence attaché is one of those posts which has never had a woman headlining it while several women have been in positions of ambassadors, diplomats, even foreign secretaries. It is a ground-breaking effort in the cause of women’s empowerment. The project has Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the helm.

According to the sources, the first group of women officers can leave for the project as soon as the next “rotation” comes into play, Defence News reported. With the increase in India’s defence and security engagement, the responsibilities of Defence Attaché have also increased. Defence diplomacy is now a regular part of India’s diplomatic engagement, certainly with key countries.

In the last five years, the defence diplomacy has become more broad-based as earlier it was only largely restricted to the Navy, sources say. The changing strategic environment in India’s extended neighbourhood involves much greater communication and the ability to open up new markets for India’s future defence exports, reported TOI.

Defence attaché is one of those posts which has never had a woman headlining it while several women have been in positions of ambassadors, diplomats, even foreign secretaries.

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The importance of these attaches cannot be overstated as they provide greater depth to India’s evolving defence and security engagements. Defence diplomacy is a significant component of India’s diplomatic apparatus with key international players.

This decision comes after the Ministry of Defence announced women could get a permanent commission in 10 branches of the Indian Army – Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps and Intelligence on March 5. All the branches of the IAF, including fighter pilots, are now open for women to serve. The Navy has opened non-sea going specialisations for women. A statement by the defence ministry earlier this month said new “training ships” will be used to train women sailors for a future in seafaring roles.

The importance of these attaches cannot be overstated as they provide greater depth to India’s evolving defence and security engagements. Defence diplomacy is a significant component of India’s diplomatic apparatus with key international players.

 

The US has had female attaches since 1960s, their first female attache assigned to India and the first general officer to serve as an attache in India since the 1960s is Brigadier General Robin Fonte, reported ET. It was only last year in July that she became the in charge of India, Pakistan and Central Asian Affairs at the National Security Council of the White House. She replaced Peter Lavoy who was Director (South Asia) in the previous Obama administration. Fonte now leads White House Policy on India, Pakistan, other South Asian countries and Central Asia.

Picture credit-Indian Express

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