The exclusions on women serving in Ground Close Combat (GCC) roles are to be lifted with immediate effect. It will see women being allowed to serve on the front line in ground close combat roles for the first time.
Gen Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, said: “I am delighted that we are now able to extend the opportunities for women to serve in the Army.
“Women already operate on the frontline in a variety of roles and have done so with distinction in recent conflicts.
“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.”
Currently over 80% of jobs across the Armed Forces are open to women, and women make up over 10% of the military’s manpower.
As a result of this ‘Interim Health Report’ (IHR), combat roles will be opened to women in a phased approach over the next three years. This will begin by allowing women to serve in all roles within certain units of the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) from November 2016. This will be reviewed after six months before being expanded to other units of the RAC.
The IHR showed that women joining the RAC would have less likelihood of injury than other ground close combat roles. Operating armoured vehicles is assessed to be likely to attract the highest number of applicants, anticipated to be up to 20 per year. In addition to the RAC, the change in rules will eventually apply to roles in the Infantry, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force Regiment which will be opened up to women by the end of 2018. By this point, and based upon an ongoing programme of research, a robust set of ‘Physical Employment Standards’ will be in place. These will set clear physical standards for all combat roles, for both men and women.
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.”