On Thursday, the UK government announced that all military units, including elite units such as the Special Air Service (SAS) and the Royal Marines will now be open to women. Women who already serve in the military can immediately transfer to elite combat units whereas new recruits will be able to apply starting December and will begin training in April 2019. The Ministry of Defense described this decision as a historic move, saying “for the first time in history, our armed forces will be determined by ability alone, and not gender.”
This follows the UK’s 2016 decision to lift the ban preventing women from serving in ground close-combat roles after the Ministry of Defense conducted a review and found no reason for women not serving in close combat roles. In the 2016 announcement to lift the ban, the then Prime Minister said all units will be open to women by the end of 2018, beginning with frontline roles. The Royal Armoured Corps, which now includes 35 women, was the first close combat branch to open its doors to women.
The UK joins the list of countries that allow women to serve in close combat roles. These countries include the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Germany. The US opened all combat roles to women in 2015, opening more than 200,000 roles for women.
Newswire Sources: The Guardian 10/25/18, 7/8/16; CNN 8/20/15; NPR 12/3/15;