The decision by the government to allow women into all combat roles has been criticised by a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan.
Colonel Richard Kemp’s comments come after the Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that from Thursday, infantry roles across all the armed forces would be available to women.
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) October 25, 2018
Kemp said: “I think it’s based entirely on gender equality which is desirable everywhere else, but I think if you subordinate operational combat effectiveness to gender equality then that can end up costing lives.”
This move marks the first-time women can apply for special forces roles like the SAS.
Williamson praised the announcement as a historic day for the armed forces.
Women who are currently serving in all three branches of the armed forces are able to apply to transfer for infantry roles immediately and outside applicants will be able to apply in December.
I am absolutely delighted to announce that all roles in the military are now open to women. Our Armed Forces will now be determined by ability alone and not gender. This is a truly defining moment in the history of the Armed Forces.
— Gavin Williamson (@GavinWilliamson) October 25, 2018
The Ministry of Defence emphasised there would be no changes to the selection processes but for the first time the military would be determined by ability and not gender.
Woman have been able to serve in operational capacities for years, and were allowed into combat facing roles since 2016, after former prime minister David Cameron lifted a previous ban.
This decision led to the first female tank commanders qualifying and being deployed in Oman and the Baltic’s, bringing the British armed forces up-to-date with those of the US, Australia, Israel and even Afghanistan, where women make up to 20% of the military.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the previous head of the armed forces said on leaving the military this year: “I want to say, Loud and Clear, that we need to do better at the advancement of women in the ranks of the armed forces.”
Women represent about 10% of the regular military, but only 3.6% of senior roles are held by women.
The M.O.D said: “While the military does not necessarily expect large numbers of women to apply for ground close combat roles, the changes are aimed at creating opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds and making the most of their talents.”
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— Voice Of London UK (@VoiceOfLondonUK) October 26, 2018
Words: Harry Lye | Subbing: Salvi Shahlaie | Picture: Wikimedia