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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
Bangladesh women sign up
Bangladesh soldiers
The women will follow the same regimen as men
By Daniel Lak in Dhaka

Officials in Bangladesh say they have received a huge number of applications from women for commissions in the country's army.

Recently the military changed its longstanding policy and decided to allow female officers in all but combat roles.

A newspaper report today says nearly 15,000 applications have been received, more than twice the number for male applicants.

While the exact number of female applicants for officers' posts in the Bangladesh army is still being calculated.

Bangladesh soldier
Not allowed in combat roles
There is no doubt that officials and recruiting personnel are overwhelmed by the response.

Selection of female officer cadets is to begin in early September and well over 12,000 applications will have to be examined before then.

'GWCs'

Work has already begun on a separate dormitory for women at the country's military academy.

The new recruits will be designated Gentlewomen Cadets, known by the acronym GWC.

All the new applicants are said to be highly educated and, aside from the rigours of physical training, they will go through exactly the same regimen as men at the academy.

Bangladesh used to allow women officers only in the medical corps, but the decision to expand their role in the army was taken earlier this year.

For now they will not be involved in combat roles, but all other activities are open to them.

The Bangladeshi navy and air force have already begun recruiting and training women officers.

As for the army, the first female officers should be barking orders at their troops by the year 2003.

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