New opportunities

In 2016, British military might also welcome women in combat roles

Britain's Prince Charles meets cadets. (REUTERS/Steve Parsons/Pool)

After this month’s historic decision by the U.S. military to open up all combat roles to women, the British military might soon do the same. Prime Minister David Cameron announced he’s asked the Ministry of Defence to prepare to welcome women in close combat roles. “The defence secretary [Michael Fallon] and I are united in wanting to see all roles in our armed forces opened up to women in 2016. We’ve already lifted a number of barriers in our armed forces with the introduction of female submariners and women reaching the highest ranks in all services” the prime minister said, adding: “We should finish the job next year and open up ground combat roles to women.” In the UK, 80 percent of roles in the military are currently open to women, who make up 10 percent of the British forces. The government would be ready as early as next autumn to start training women in the new combat roles, and has already started working with recruitment organizations to make sure women are aware of the new opportunities.

Some politicians remain wary, however, and former security minister Admiral Alan West said he was a little nervous about the prospect: “I want forces that can win. And why don’t we have women in the England men’s rugby team? Because actually they don’t have the same size, power, and all of these sort of things.” The shadow defense secretary, Maria Eagle, however, welcomed the decision, saying: “This would mark a vital step towards achieving this goal and would bring us into line with many of the U.K.’s allies, many of whom have a more equal gender balance in their forces.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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