Report recommends women be allowed into combat roles
FEMALE soldiers should no longer be banned from serving in combat roles in the military, an official UK government review has ruled.
The Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, announced last year that the Government was considering reversing the ban on women serving in the infantry. He said he hoped to "open up combat roles to women" but called for more research to assess whether female service personnel could cope with the physical demands involved.
However, the review has now concluded that "in principle, there is no reason why [women] should not be able to undertake the full range of combat roles".
The finding, buried in the Government's long-awaited Strategic Defence and Security Review, opens up the possibility of women serving in the most challenging front-line fighting units from next year. The decision will be confirmed in the new year but it is all but certain that the historic ban will be lifted.
Currently women can serve on the front line, but not where the primary aim is to "close with and kill the enemy".
This means women are not permitted to serve in the infantry or armoured corps.
Previously Mr Fallon said he was confident allowing women in combat roles would not affect the "cohesion of the unit [or] the overall effectiveness of the unit" in battle. He said: "Women can fight just as effectively as men."
To join an infantry unit at recruitment level, men have to complete a run of 1.5 miles in 12 minutes 45 seconds. They then have to complete an annual fitness assessment which involves carrying 25kg, plus a rifle and helmet, over a distance of just under eight miles in two hours, the Ministry of Defence said.
Women remain excluded from the Infantry, Armoured Corps, Royal Marines and RAF Regiment
Around 10 per cent of the UK's total armed forces are women, compared to more than 14 per cent in the US and Australia.
More than 20 nations allow women to fight in combat roles, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, and the US.