Britain to lift ban on women in frontline combat jobs

LONDON (THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION) - The British military will end its ban on women serving in combat roles, allowing women to serve in frontline positions for the first time from November, the defence ministry said.

The ministry said the decision follows a health report which evaluated the physical and psychological risks to women of serving in active combat.

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the recommendation by military chiefs and said he asked that it be implemented as soon as possible. "It is vital that our Armed Forces are world class and reflect the society we live in," Cameron said in a statement on Friday.

"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."

The decision comes after the United States announced in December that all combat roles will be opened to women.

Women already serve on the frontline for the armed forces of a few developed nations, including Canada and Israel, while India recruited its first female fighter pilots in June.

The Royal Armoured Corps (RAC), the British army's tank and armored vehicle regiments, will be the first to allow women to serve on the frontline in November. Other units will follow over the next three years.

More than 80 per cent of jobs across Britain's armed forces are already open to women, who make up 10 per cent of personnel, said the Ministry of Defence.

"By allowing women to serve in all roles, we will truly help to maximise the talent available to the Army and make the Armed Forces a modern employer," the chief of staff General Sir Nick Carter said.