Changing its policy regarding applicability of Battle Physical Efficiency Test (BPET) for women officers/women cadets/women recruits, the Army has made it mandatory for all women officers, including those commissioned before 2009 and above 35 years of age, who were earlier exempt from it.
The BPET is a series of physical tests that are meant to test the physical fitness of an officer or a jawan to perform military tasks. For women officers, this includes a 5-km run, a 60-metre sprint, climbing vertical rope up to a certain height, traversing horizontal rope up to a certain distance and jumping 6-feet ditch.
The Indian Express has accessed the directions by the Directorate General of Military Training (DGMT) of Army Headquarters, New Delhi, issued in this regard on May 12, 2020.
The letter states, “The standards will be applicable to all categories of women entries and trainees in all training academies and regimental centres of all arms and services with immediate effect irrespective of date of joining training establishments/commission/enrollment”.
These new directions supersede the directions issued in March 2011 which read, “Lady officers, who are commissioned before April 2009 and are above 35 years of age, will be excused BPET and only Physical Proficiency Test (PPT) will be applicable for them.”
The new order has also laid out new standards which have to be met by women in the Army, including the time in which they have to complete the tasks etc.
As per the new directions, the time taken to run at height of 5000 feet/1500 metres in age category for women officers below 30 years should be 30 minutes of less for ‘Excellent’ grading, 31 minutes 30 seconds for ‘Good’ grading and 33 minutes for ‘Satisfactory’ grading. In comparison, the 2011 letter stipulated 32 minutes for ‘Excellent’, 33 minutes 30 seconds for ‘Good’ and 35 minutes for ‘Satisfactory’.
Similar decrease in time frame has been made for distance run at height from 5000 feet to 9000 feet. In the category of 60 metre sprint the ‘Excellent’ grading time has been reduced from 16 seconds to 15 seconds, 19 seconds to 17 seconds for ‘good’ grading and 20 seconds to 19 seconds for ‘Satisfactory’ grading.
In another move, after the Supreme Court order on February 17, 2020 granting permanent commission to all women officers with all consequential benefits, the Army has started detailing women officers of the rank of Lt Colonels for Junior Command (JC) course at Army War College, Mhow. Women officers have been asked to attend the courses being conducted at the war college between July to October this year (tentatively).
This course, which is normally done by male officers between 5 to 10 years of service, will now see women officers of much senior service bracket of 15 and 16 years of service and more attending it. As per the directions of the DGMT consequent to the SC order the women officers considered for permanent commission will have to undergo mandatory courses of their respective branches along with JC course.
When contacted, a senior officer at Army HQs said that this was being done because undergoing JC course was a mandatory requirement for promotion to the rank of Colonel.
“Many of the women officers would be considered for promotion to rank of Colonel therefore they need to do this course which was hitherto not compulsory for them,” the officer said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity a woman officer reacted negatively to the inclusion of women officers above the age of 35 years for BPET.
“Why has this been done only after the SC gave a favourable ruling for permanent commission to women officers? Is it a move to ensure that women in higher age bracket who have not been doing BPET due to 2011 orders fail in their endeavour and are forced out of service?” she questioned.
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