Murphy's Law: December 9, 2002

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The issue of women in combat units also shows up in guerilla movements. In northeast India, many ancient tribes resent the movement of land hungry Indians into their mountains and forests. Since 1989, the NLFT (National Liberation Front of Tripura) has waged a low level war against Indian police, army units and civilians who don't agree with the NFLT. The NLFT survives by sending young men into remote camps just across the border in Bangladesh. From there, the guerillas make occasional raids against police and troops in India. But most of the time, the lads sit in their camps, isolated, alone. This was bad for morale, and fewer young fellows were volunteering for the cause, and years in the bush. Several splits in the NFLT (over tribal, political, personal and religious disputes) have further reduced the number of armed fighters. Two years ago, there were only a few hundred armed men out in the camps. So the NFLT decided to allow women to volunteer for combat duty. Unlike regular soldiers, guerillas usually go into action with a lot less equipment, so the lower weight carrying capability of women is not a disadvantage. Guerilla weapons like assault rifles, grenades and explosives can be handled equally well by men and women. The NFLT recruited about a hundred young women last year and sent them off to the camps. Morale soared among the men out in the bush. Many romances bloomed and dozens of couples have left the movement to set up housekeeping. The NFLT rebellion kills about 500 people a year.

 


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