David Cameron lifts ban on women serving in ground combat roles
Women will be able to serve in frontline combat roles in the military for the first time, in what David Cameron called a “major step” for equality.
The army’s Chief of the General Staff said the move would “maximise the talent available to the army” and make the army “a modern employer”.
It follows a unanimous declaration from the heads of the armed services that the ban on women taking part in ground combat should be lifted.
It follows a similar move from the US, where the Obama administration announced in December that all military roles would be available to women.
“The Chief of General Staff has recommended that we lift the ban on Women in Ground Close Combat, a view that has been supported by the other Service Chiefs ,” Mr Cameron said.
“I agree with his advice and have accepted his recommendation. I have asked that this is implemented as soon as possible.
“It is vital that our Armed Forces are world class and reflect the society we live in. 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.”
Roles will be gradually opened up to women over the next three years, beginning with roles in the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) being made available.
The move follows research on the effects of ground combat on women, including potential psychological damage and impaired reproductive health.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “I have always wanted roles in our armed forces to be determined by ability, not gender.
“Women have already given exemplary service in recent conflicts, working in a variety of highly specialised and vital roles. By opening all combat roles to women, we will continue to build on these successes and improve the operational capability of our military.”