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British Army may allow women in frontline combat roles


LONDON (PTI): Women could assume frontline combat roles in the British Army after a policy review due in 2018 was brought forward by the UK government.

UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the head of the army, Sir Peter Wall, would report back by the end of the year when a person's fitness, not their gender, will be the main reason of whether a soldier can fight in battle.

Currently women can serve on the frontline, but not where the primary aim is to "close with and kill the enemy".

"I think that at a time when the Americans, the Australians, the Canadians, even the French, the Israelis of course for years have women in their combat arms, this is something we have to look at again," Hammond told a Parliamentary Press Gallery lunch here on Friday.

"Not because there are thousands of women desperate to join the combat arms, but because the message that the Army is not fully open to women who can meet the fitness and other requirements - the message that sends to women who might be looking to join other parts of our military," he added.

The last review, held in 2010, found women would be able to meet the physical and psychological standards required for close quarters combat.

The change in rules, if accepted, will apply to the infantry and the armoured divisions, where female soldiers are not allowed to bear arms.

This would also mean that it would apply to Special Forces such as the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS).

Women soldiers serve in the Special Reconnaissance Regiment but not in the SAS and the SBS.

The Ministry of Defence is required under European law to review its policy every eight years.

Tags:

Britain  Army  Women  Combat  Defence  

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