Afghan female military officers will train with the Indian Army for the first time at the training academy in Chennai, Indian media reported on Wednesday.
The Afghan women include 17 army and three air force officers as well as others from special forces, intelligence, public affairs, and other Afghan Ministry of Defence departments, NDTV reported. They were chosen from across the country and are representative of “all major ethnicities,” according to the Indian government.
“The aim of the training is to acquaint the officers with basic military orientation including physical training, tactics, communication skills and leadership,” India’s ambassador to Afghanistan Manpreet Vohra said.
India has trained over 4,000 Afghan military and security personnel, but the training program will be a first for women. The Afghan army is aiming to increase its female personnel to 10 percent of the force, according to NDTV.
As of August there were 4,500 women in the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, including 1,200 in the army and 100 in the air force. The U.S. Special Inspector General has noted a number of problems that prevent more women from joining the ANDSF and national police force, including cultural stigmas, illiteracy, and high attrition rates.