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Southern States - Tamil Nadu-Chennai

OTA to train foreign women cadets

By R.K. Radhakrishnan

CHENNAI MARCH 1. The Officers Training Academy (OTA) here will train foreign women cadets from the next course.

Seven Jamaicans will join the course, commencing later this month. The OTA mandate is to train gentlemen and lady cadets for short service commission in the Indian Army.

Cuba has also expressed an interest in getting its women trained here, the academy commandant, Sudhir Mohan, said on Thursday.

In an informal chat with presspersons here, Maj.Gen. Sudhir Mohan said the intake of women cadets was likely to be increased from 60 to 75 from September.

This is the second instance of a foreign country exhibiting an interest in the short army training course. In 1998, the OTA trained 10 cadets from Uganda. Though the Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces then stated it would continue to send cadets, none came to the OTA after the first batch.

The women cadet's course, which commenced here in 1992, following a change in government policy, took a while to ``mature.'' The Army gradually gained expertise in preparing Indian women for serious physical conditioning necessary for working with forward units. Though women cadets are not inducted into combat arms, they could be in close liaison with frontline troops. This is particularly applicable in counter-insurgency areas.

The OTA team first worked with the Sports Medicine department of the Tamil Nadu Dr.MGR Medical University on physical training of women. Instances of stress fracture among women cadets were relatively high and the Army wanted to provide training in a manner that would keep injuries to the minimum. Also, hospitalisation for even a short span _ say two weeks _ would mean the cadet lagging behind in the course and there was every likelihood of a relegation. This also affected the cadet morale. The OTA then decided to set up its own sports medicine wing to cater for specific needs.

On gentlemen cadet training, Gen. Sudhir Mohan said the duration would be increased from 10 months to train them better in counter-insurgency operations, aspects of modern warfare and computer. The academy intake would be increased from 600 to 750 by 2006 _ deadline for completion of expansion activities to house state-of-the-art training facilities and for cadet accommodation.

As many as 210 cadets from technical and non-technical categories, including 41 women, would pass out on March 2.

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