The ban on women serving in ‘close combat’ roles in Britain’s military forces has been lifted – but only a tiny fraction of those in the armed forces will be able to do them.
Until today, women were not permitted to serve in the infantry or armoured corps – roles that where the primary aim is to “close with and kill the enemy” – although they are allowed to take other jobs on the front line.
Downing Street has confirmed the ban will be scrapped, after an 18-month review by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who has said roles “should be determined by ability and not gender”.
But very few women may actually end up in close combat because they are not physically strong enough to pass the current tests.
The introduction of women to the roles will be phased over two years, according to BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale, but few women are reportedly interested in the roles.
The British Army says that out of its 7,000 women only about 5% would pass the physical tests required for infantry or armoured corps.
The BBC reports that one such test is completing an eight-mile march in under two hours while carrying a backpack weighing 25kg.