British military opens combat roles to women soldiers

© Luke MacGregor
Women are to be allowed to serve in combat roles by 2016 as Prime Minister David Cameron orders the military to drop the ban on female soldiers on the front line.

Cameron told the Telegraph on Sunday it is time for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to “finish the job” and allow women, who were recently permitted into the previously all-male submarine service, to join combat units.

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,” the prime minister said.

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.

We should finish the job next year and open up ground combat roles to women,” he said.

The move will be seen as risky by old-school military officers, who have long said women in combat units could damage cohesion.
Lifting the ban would bring the UK in line with the US military, which has itself dropped segregation.

Colonel Richard Kemp, formerly a UK commander of forces deployed to Afghanistan, told the Telegraph previously that women lacked the “killer instinct” necessary to fight.

Inclusion of women in the infantry is certain to result in a lowering of physical standards despite the inevitable denials that this will happen,” Kemp said.

Women already serve as pilots and frontline medics, but roles in the Royal Marines, infantry and armored corps remain off limits.

An anonymous Whitehall source told the Telegraph: “This is an important decision and we want to get it right.

The review has so far not been conclusive and more research is needed. But overall the MoD is leaning towards making the change.

Women, who make up 10 percent of the British military, are currently allowed to serve in 80 percent of the armed services.