Ready to serve

Britain to open ground combat roles to women

(REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

Following the unanimous recommendation of service chiefs last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron is set to announce the removal of the ban on women serving in ground combat roles in the British armed forces. Women are currently banned from units “where the primary role is to close with and kill the enemy,” roles that include infantry, armored regiments, and the Royal Marines. It is anticipated that the ban will be gradually relaxed — beginning by opening up jobs in tank units within the year, with infantry jobs to follow afterwards.

Last year, Cameron voiced his support for joining allies such as Canada, Australia, and the U.S. in opening ground combat roles to women. After two years of internal reviews led by General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, it was determined that while women were more prone to injury than men, including women within tightly-bonded fighting units would not, as some claimed, undermine morale.

Army sources have said that the nature of the armed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan meant that thousands of women serving in noncombat roles were forced to serve on the front lines — earning the respect of their male comrades in the process. “The guys who went through Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have a problem with it,” said one serving officer. “The people who have a problem are some of the old guard, and some of the very young guys who define their masculinity by being in the infantry.”

Read the full story at The Telegraph.


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