Britain Reviewing Ban on Women in Face-to-Face Combat

The British Ministry of Defense announced this week that they will review a policy barring women from serving in military positions that could require them to kill an enemy in close combat. According to the Guardian UK, a review of this policy is required every eight years due to the European Community Equal Treatment Directive. In 2002, Britain reviewed and retained the policy, which currently bans women from the army’s infantry and cavalry and from naval submarines.

Brig Richard Nugee, who will be directing the British army’s review of the policy, told the BBC: “The real point is that we now have practical experience of women in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq and we want to see, genuinely want to see, what effect that will have on our military. This is a very open-minded review, we have no conclusions yet.”

General Mike Jackson, who formerly led the British army, told the Guardian UK that he hasn’t seen any major change since the government’s last review of the policy. He said the reason the policy should be maintained “is not because women are not capable, [but because] it comes to the dynamics of units of 18-year-old soldiers….It is all about unit cohesion, not the capability of the soldier.”

The United States currently restricts women from direct combat roles in infantry positions or in the Special Forces.


BBC 5/24/09; Guardian UK 5/24/09

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