New Delhi: The Indian Army has identified and begun infrastructure development of units in the Corps of Military Police (CMP) where the first batch of women soldiers will be posted following their training course that begins in December, outgoing Army Adjutant General Lt Gen Ashwani Kumar said here on Thursday.

The first batch of 100 women soldiers, who have been short-listed, are scheduled to be inducted into the CMP, most likely in March 2021, after completion of their 61-week training period. These women soldiers will, however, be assigned 'non-combat' roles in the Army.

"A balance of strength amongst men and women soldiers has been worked out in the CMP units where the first batch of women soldiers will be posted. Infrastructure is being developed in these units for accommodating the women soldiers," said Lt Gen Kumar.

The women soldiers will be inducted into the CMP for duties including policing cantonments and other Army establishments. They will also work in cooperation with civil police of various state governments as well as the Centre, besides handling prisoners of war and maintenance of rules. They will also investigate cases of crime.

"The strength of women soldiers will be increased in a phased manner to reach the figure of 1,700 in a period of 17 years. Four women instructors have been selected for the training of women soldiers. No one will be allowed to enter into the barracks meant for the women soldiers without being accompanied by at least one of these women instructors," he said.

Lt Gen Kumar, who superannuated on Thursday to be replaced by Lt Gen Arvind Dutta, informed that help was sought from the Karnataka State Women Police Battalion as well as Assam Rifles of the Indian Army in creating infrastructure for training the women soldiers.

Women officers have earlier been commissioned into the Army too but in non-combat' roles as well. Experts said issues pertaining to living conditions and hygiene facilities available to combat infantry in the armed forces, particularly in forward posts, has been discouraging the Army from inducting women soldiers in 'combat roles'.

"There is no better way than expanding the role of women in the Army than by giving them equal opportunities with the men. This will help women officers and soldiers to better integrate into the forces," former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda (Retd) told IANS.