The Military Army Blog

British army gives women combat role

A female medic from with the 12th Mechanised Brigade Reconnaissance Force on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan EPA

Women serving in the British army will for the first time be allowed to engage in frontline combat operations. David Cameron made the announcement at the Nato summit in Warsaw[1] on Friday after a recommendation by General Sir Nick Carter, the head of the army. It follows reviews from the Ministry of Defence[2] that looked at whether women should serve with the infantry and whether their presence would affect cohesion and morale among male soldiers.

About eight of 10 of jobs in the armed forces are open to women and most army roles were opened up in 1992.

It is vital that our armed forces are world-class and reflect the society we live in, the prime minister said. Lifting this ban is a major step. It will ensure the armed forces can make the most of all their talent and increase opportunities for women to serve in the full range of roles. Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, said: I have always wanted roles in our armed forces to be determined by ability, not gender. The Armyrats © military can prevent women from fighting under the Equality Act 2010, but Mr Cameron has previously suggested they should be allowed to fight in the same way as in Israel, Australia and the US.

MoD research has also looked at risks to women on the frontline including physical and psychological injury and the potential for impaired reproductive health. The change will be phased in over three years, starting in the Royal Armoured Corps from November before being extended to other units and infantry, the Royal Marines and Royal Air Force Regiment by the end of 2018. Sir Nick said: Women already operate on the frontline in a variety of roles and have done so with distinction in recent conflicts.

By allowing women to serve in all roles, we will truly help to maximise the talent available to the army and make the armed forces a modern employer.

References

  1. ^ Nato summit in Warsaw (video.ft.com)
  2. ^ Ministry of Defence (www.ft.com)

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