The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson today confirmed that all roles in the British Army will be opened to women. 

From today, women already serving in the Army will be able to transfer into infantry roles. Those not currently serving will be able to apply for infantry roles from December, with new recruits starting basic training in April 2019.

The Ministry of Defence said it “does not necessarily expect large numbers of women to apply for ground close combat roles”, but that the changes are “aimed at creating opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds and making the most of their talents”.

The recommendation was made to the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson by 4 senior generals, including the Commander Field Army, Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders.

Sanders denied that the decision was motivated by political correctness, saying it had “no place on the battlefield”. He also denied that it was influenced by a difficulty to maintain numbers. The British Army currently has 76,880 regular personnel, short of its 82,000 target.

“For the first time in its history, our armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender”

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson

He instead said that the decision was made due to “the difference women have made in other parts of the British Army”.

Sanders also confirmed that there will be no drop in the selection criteria or the physical standards required for acceptance: “If a male or female soldier can’t achieve the standards, they won’t be able to serve in the infantry”.

“The enemy doesn’t care what sex you are, neither do I, and nor should you”.

Women will now be able to serve in the SAS, the British Army’s most elite unit. It is understood that women already hold positions in the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.

The decision brings Britain in line with other nations including the US, Israel and Australia.

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Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Women served in The Det, which was 14 Intelligence Company and part of DSF, back in the late 80s. Now the SRR. Some currently do apparently.

Some have what it takes. But surely just a handful with the physical limitations.

Will they undergo full selection with the SAS?
If not is that not diluting standards?

Our ex soldiers on the site can comment far better than I ever will be able to.

Rgr
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Rgr

You’ll be surprised how many are in srr. You probably have more fingers.

The army has lost sight of what lethality is. Sad times.

Andy Cee
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Andy Cee

How does this announcement affect army ‘lethality’?!!

Rgr
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Rgr

Are you a bit slow Andy? Do you understand the concept of lethality?

csm
Guest
csm

@rgr Anyone can pull a trigger. Its the 3 day 50 mile hike over inhospitable terrain in awful conditions to get to the fight, that’s the hard bit. If she can do the second bit, she can do the first bit.

Now explain to me your concept of lethality?

Andy Cee
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Andy Cee

I’m not slow at all. I’d like you to explain what you meant. Preferably without personal abuse.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

But I understand SRR has differing requirements than SAS SBS so I can well believe it would have women in its ranks.

A woman after all pushing a pram down a street while on CTS looks a lot less threatening than a man.

Even the Security Service used old ladies with shopping bags. They blend in.

A bit different from a beasting while attempting the fan dance.

PapaGolf
Guest
PapaGolf

So we have babies in the SRR too? Where will it end? 🙂

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Probably an HK in the pram Papa…

Rgr
Guest
Rgr

Sure, I get that Daniele, they most definitely have a role in SRR without question.
Hard charging, down and dirty grunt work they most definitely do not.

Any Yazidi, IDF examples are not welcome as their model is vastly different to the British army.
One might point the pro women grunt arguments in the direction of the recent USMC trials into the issue.

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

Late in the N.I. troubles an under cover female scout was approached by two men who pursued her. She shot and seriously injured one before the other identified himself as R.U.C. James Bond is b*llocks obviously, entertaining but nothing like reality. If we don’t use what women can do and do well we are being very short sighted.Terrorists don’t make that mistake. Two French detectives who went to arrest a male suspect in the 70s ignored the woman he was with. She killed them both. Afterwards the rule among the French secret service was ‘shoot the woman first’.

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

Yep, I am all for this as long as the physical and mental requirements are the same. After all if a woman can pass the same course as the guys then they have the right to be there.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Agree. As long as there is no lowering of standards or a women’s only selection.

Bill Kenny
Guest
Bill Kenny

Hi Danielle, there certainly were some very, very brave females who served in 14 Company back in the day and they may also have worked with the Det but I don’t think they were part of that unit. On the wider question of infantry and SF selection I fear the Army is another institution that has fallen to Gramsci’s infamous march through the institutions. The officer corps by dint of their selection and training are largely signed up to the post modernist philosophy that dominates Academia, The Media and Politics. I recently reminded a current Battalion Commander that his role… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Thank you Bill.

I tend to agree, this PC stuff seeps in everywhere it seems.

As for the Det. I believe that and 14 Int were one and the same. The Dets being North South East detachments of 14 Int Coy, whose training depot was at “Camp Two” at PATA. Though that’s not named in the books that were released by former members as that place was not well known at the time.

“One Up” and “She who Dared” both come to mind.

Bill Kenny
Guest
Bill Kenny

You are most likely correct Danielle things change; at one point at least I think the Det was purely SF, so we may be referring to different things. I would also be really surprised if the SRR did not retain the female contingent. But after my time so again things could have changed.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Cheers Bill.

Not being funny, but it’s 1 L in my name not 2 please.

I usually let it go as it happens all the time. I’m not female.

We’ve been here before on UKDJ!

Bill Kenny
Guest
Bill Kenny

Ooops Sorry I will make a note for future reference.

Kpb
Guest
Kpb

In my very limited STAB experience, our female colleagues dropped like flies after 3 days in the field. Tiredness and extended load carrying led to a lot of minor injuries.

The problem with that of course is that someone else had to carry essential kit or undertake more duties.

But in every other regards they were equal and often better at many other aspects, including comms, navigation, decision making and marksmanship.

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

If you watch the original Alien film, you will see how lethal women soldiers can be. One of the few positives that will transpire from our post Brexit world.

Chris
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Chris

(Chris H) Julian – How on earth can you connect Brexit good or bad to this announcement? I had a puncture yesterday was that because of Brexit?

Lusty
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Lusty

I sneezed earlier.

I’m blaming Brexit.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Careful. It may be one of those infectious diseases that we will be swept with once the supply lines are cut and we all starve.

At least we will have Sandwiches…..Or will we?

Lusty
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Lusty

If the supply lines are cut, I’m sure the ever venerable Gosport Ferry could be utilised by smugglers to guarantee our sandwich supply.

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

Action messing and ‘box meals’ >shudder<

Luke Skywalker
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Luke Skywalker

Exactly Julian. If you watch Star Wars you’ll see just how lethal my Jedi training can be!

Frank
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Frank

Personally, I had to make breakfast early. Bloody brexit.

Julian1
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Julian1

There’s always a Brexit angle if you look hard enough

David E Flandry
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David E Flandry

You do realize that Alien and its successors were fictional?

Julian1
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Julian1

No I didn’t realise that, special effects were amazing

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

The British Army currently has 76,880 regular personnel, short of its 82,000 target.

76,880 on the payroll. True strength? A bit lower.

Woman in the infantry or cavalry is one of those rabbit hole topics best avoided.

Its worked well for the navy…………………. 🙂

Barry Larking
Guest
Barry Larking

Cultures must change if they have no impact on doctrine. The Israelis have used women soldiers very effectively and so too have the Kurds.

john
Guest

There is a significant impact on doctrine, rates of pregnancy amongst front line troops is a significant and expanding issue. Likewise, unprofessional relationships between soldiers is on the rise, I am reminded just off the top of my head of the story that occurred on one of our SSN submarines. Having single sex units in certain environments is jolly sensible, and any argument saying otherwise is blinkered.

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

It was one of our V-boats. CASD should be the holy of hollies…….. but it would seem not.

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

I would go have a look see if I were you about how the IDF employee females.

john martin
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john martin

Weather it works or not the brass and Westminster’s wind bags will not pay the price, only you know who.

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

There is a dimension to this that gets over looked and the reason why eventually standards will be changed. This move by the MoD isn’t about ‘equality’ per se. It isn’t so the Zoe’s, Tracey’s, Teegan’s, and Amy’s from the council estates of the Midlands and North can rally to the colours to fight and die for British values, whatever those are these days. It is so Caroline’s and Annabelle’s from the nicer parts of the Home Counties can get to command a fighting formation and perhaps then go on to be CGS or even CDS. That will be carefully… Read more »

Top Boy
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Top Boy

Hmmmm who would want us to have a weaker armed forces? Probably the same people who want to undermine our traditional culture and values. Wake up people for gods sake!
We need (for frontline combat operations) the strongest, biggest, baddest men we can get. We could be going up against (potentially) Russian spetnaz or even currently the ISIS barbarians.
God save us!

Levi Goldsteinberg
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Levi Goldsteinberg

Near enough no change at all, since if the standards are the same across the board, women simply won’t make the cut

Lee1
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Lee1

I think you are underestimating women… Sure I would imagine less will make the cut than men but there are some super fit women out there that could pass the course. Women fight in other armies of the world in an effective way.

Paul
Guest
Paul

If you’re good enough you’re good enough! It hasn’t hurt Israeli.

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

The role of women in the IDF isn’t what the West’s media tell you it is.

Rgr
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Rgr

Exactly.
It’s a terrible example.

Paul
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Paul

It’s an example of women being used on the front line. How can this be a terrible example? From my own albeit limit knowledge women are used widely in IDF. But my first point can’t be questioned, if you’re good enough then you’re good enough.

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

I would go to do some research on how the IDF employees women.

Perhaps also consider the difference between elective wars and extensional conflict for national existence.

Elliott
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Elliott

Not in Line Infantry units. Not since the Independence War. Women in Israel and other countries that practice Female conscription use them to preform rear area and lower risk duties. For instance Border Security and Base Security in addition to simply deploying them to quiet sectors in order to free up male units. The idea to put women in integrated front line combat units is not only ludicrous it is a act of Moral Cowardice to suit the politically correct and mentally infirm. The idea that women can be put on to the front line in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan,… Read more »

HF
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HF

‘The Army is not and should not ever be a social experiment’ – quite right but I think this is a case of necessity, given recruitment levels across all the services.

IKnowNothing
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IKnowNothing

‘The Army is not and should not ever be a social experiment’ and therefore has no right to apply different rules on gender equality to the rest of the society it serves.

John Clark
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John Clark

Well, I guess the point being that we should be striving for the same standard across the sexes without compromise. Let’s not forget the amount of serving male military personnel who are currently clinically obese and could probably be beaten by a 12 year old girl in an egg and spoon race! Get away from male or female mindset and just think People. They ( male or female) either make the necessary standard for the job applied for, or they do not…. We need to attract the best and brightest youngsters into the armed forces, personally I couldn’t give a… Read more »

Anthony D
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Anthony D

Well said

Billythefish
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Billythefish

1. Psychologically women are as capable as men at making good decisions (or bad ones) under pressure and able to make lethally critical decisions. 2. A few number of women will be able to pass the various selection criteria in terms of physicality in terms to be recruited. 3. Once recruited however there will be issues of difference in terms of the regular and consistent physical loading on women’s bodies – especially after calcium degredation following childbirth. 4. In a battle/conflict situation where planning falls apart (such as the sinking of the Atlantic Conveyor in the Falklands conflict – along… Read more »

Lee1
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Lee1

You say that, but lets look at the women who regularly trek many miles in African heat while carrying stupidly heavy containers of water at the same time as carrying their children with them… I do not think there is any evidence that suggests women are not capable of carrying large loads for long distances.

BB85
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BB85

While their husbands lie in the sun gambling and drinking moonshine. Those women put all of us to shame.

BB85
Guest
BB85

I agree with your points Billy, I can’t see many women choosing to go into an infantry role requiring them to carry their body weight on their shoulders over 20 miles when there are so many other roles in the Army they will be well suited to.
I also think the Army being so male dominated is one of the reasons they struggle to attract and retain male recruits. Most of us can only handle that toxic masculinity in limited doses.

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

It isn’t just carrying their own body weight plus over a good distance and over rough terrain it is the requirement the other to go straight in a contact or dig a hole big enough to stand in.

IKnowNothing
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IKnowNothing

This isn’t a gender issue though. Whilst the average male is stronger than the average female, there is a wide crossover. There are plenty of fit strong women out there who could do this.

It is therefore not acceptable to discriminate on the basis of gender. Define an appropriate and challenging standard and hold all applicants to it equally, but don’t reduce this to a question of gender.

Steve Taylor
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Steve Taylor

Yes. But without figures to back up your notion it is just that a notion.

Anthony D
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Anthony D

I may be wrong but didn’t the guards have trouble making that trek by foot. Wasn’t it only the Royal Marines that actually walked all the way to Stanley?

HF
Guest
HF

There were some stories of individuals not able to make it – they’d been on mainly ceremonial duties shortly before so fitness must have been affected.

DHS
Guest
DHS

If a women can meet the physical standards demanded, then I see no reason why she cannot serve in an infantry or an SF unit. Frankly speaking, there are literally thousands of fat male soldiers out there that are equally incapable of meeting even basic requirements, so where do they stand?

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

Agreed Lee. All that is being suggested here is all roles open to either sex to apply for, that’s absolutely the right thing and well overdue in 2018. There is in fact evidence that women make better fast jet pilots, they have ( I believe) better G resistance and on avarage are more capable of multi tasking ….. The real issue is we struggle to attract youngsters into the armed firces, it’s not seen as a viable profession….. That needs to be sorted out without delay …. And like most of out threads, it goes back down to lack of… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

This is great news. All the services are currently down against their target numbers, and so opening up to capable and keen woman, will help fill those gaps. Whatever your view on the capability of a woman solider (positive or negative) you can’t argue that any solider is better than none. Woman also bring a different way of thinking and approaching a problem (mentally and physically) that can only be a positive. Yes it might mean the forces need to adjust their tactics slightly to cater, but change is often a positive and certainly not always a negative. The challenge… Read more »

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

You cannot avoid the political correctness as it is inherent in this policy. Just as you will never attain a 50/50 gender split in any job as it is anathema to the species. Evolution it’s kind of a thing. “Woman also bring a different way of thinking and approaching a problem (mentally and physically) that can only be a positive. Yes it might mean the forces need to adjust their tactics slightly to cater, but change is often a positive and certainly not always a negative”. That may be some of the most ridiculous mental contortions I have ever seen.… Read more »

Steve
Guest
Steve

What a load of nonscience. If you look at any war and I mean any, the tactics of how to win changes between before and after the war, everyone there is realisation that the tactics going into the war were outdated and defunct. If warfare has never changed then we would still have our soliders wearing bright red and lining up and slow marching against canons.

Just because women weren’t on the front line before, diesnt mean that having them there tomorrow isn’t a positive. Warfare is a constantly moving goal.

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

That is not the nature of war. I am referring to the fact the basic function of war is to destroy the enemy by eliminating their ability to wage war. That means kill them and wreck their shit until they surrender.
Tactics change as technology dictates. The nature of war does not change and will never change.
Also do you really think the attacking on the flank or the pincer movement to envelop the enemy is new? Read classical history before you answer.

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

Yes technology constantly changes. But in the areas we are talking about (mostly) the infantry things haven’t change much. And are unlikely to change until somebody invents some legged drone capable of fitting human sized spaces for a good price (see Boston Dynamics) which isn’t far off. Also you should never confuse female medics or specialists being deployed with a ‘team’ as them being infantry.

Callum
Guest
Callum

It’s not the physical abilities of women that could prove the most detrimental, it’s the effect on unit cohesion. This is probably going to be a controversial opinion, the army, and the armed forces in general, aren’t places where 2018 ideals like political correctness, diversity, and equality should have priority. People are generally most comfortable and efficient when they’re working with those they have a lot in common with. The more differences you introduce, the more chances of disunity and problems arise. Regiments used to be primarily drawn from the counties they were based in; now downsizing has meant most… Read more »

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Callum I think the fear of difference is the only thing that undermines cohesion.

Surely the same argument can be made for ethnic minorities and gay people.

Once people get used to the change everyone wonders what all the fuss was about.

Heaven forbid teams won’t all think exactly the same. That’s never got anyone into trouble.

In some scenarios such as counter insurgency you can see the opportunities in terms of gaining the rust of local people and gathering intelligence.

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

The difference is minorities and gays are not objectively incapable of hauling the average male plus their own equipment to safety if they are wounded.
Fear of difference is not the concern and clapping your hands over your years and calling everyone a sexist if they disagree. Does not make it so.
Have you ever been involved in a counter insurgency? Because you are suggesting that women would somehow make better liaison officers in countries are only rarely allowed to drive and are often killed for the “sin” of being raped or teaching girls to read.

Anthony D
Guest
Anthony D

Counter insurgencies aren’t confined to Muslim countries.

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

No but they tend to be men. Did the atrocities of the Balkan Wars pass you by?

Lee H
Guest
Lee H

Evening all Unit cohesion has been challenged a lot over the last 50 years. Blacks, gays, Indians etc. and now women. Every single time the unit got over it, the unit will continue to get over it. The unit is not made by the creed, Colour or sex of the individual but by the code of the unit/Regt/Sqn/ships Coy they are in and by the ethos of the military they join. We represent society, they expect us to be representative of them, we are after all the ultimate instrument of policy that ensures the freedom of us all. I don’t… Read more »

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

Then society should expect less. Society is soft and full of welfare rats who expect everything to be handed to them like Mardi Gras beads for nothing. In the Military accomplishment and advancement is earned, that is not reflective of society and good thing I wouldn’t want to send lambs to the slaughter.
The ethos of the unit should always be accomplishing the mission. What it should never be is pander to whatever social justice issue is in vogue.

OOA
Guest
OOA

On balance, I’m for this.

Main worry is that pressure will be applied to unofficially relax standards for women in order to meet an equally unofficial, but very real, PR-led quota. My sincere hope is that someone, possibly people on here, will be brave enough to blow the whistle if they see it happening. It can’t be allowed.

Palaboran
Guest

What about sex? Randy troopies, distant outpost……. I see troubles ahead.

Steve Taylor
Guest
Steve Taylor

It’s done wonders for the morale of the RN.

IKnowNothing
Guest
IKnowNothing

‘sex’ is not a gender issue. Unless you are suggesting that there has never been a sexual relationship within an all-male unit.

And if your concern is about heterosexual relationships occurring, well doesn’t that require a breach of the rules involving both a male and female soldier? If so, the failure is once again not about gender.

John Hampson
Guest
John Hampson

I am sure the Taliban in Helmand would make allowances if they were faced with an less fit opposition .

John Clark
Guest
John Clark

With record numbers of obese serving personnel John, I trust “less fit” encompasses the men too….

John Hampson
Guest
John Hampson

John. I would be staggered if men serving in the Infantry are fat and unfit. Being in such a state would be a weak link and would endanger their comrades.

IknowNothing
Guest
IknowNothing

I don’t think it really matters what the military might think of this issue any more. Society has moved on and restricting any role in any organisation based solely on gender just isn’t acceptable anymore. Like it or not the military are not separate from broader society, they are a part of it and are bound by the same broad social understandings as that society. Of course they are also employed by and paid for by society and if wider society no longer accepts gender discrimination then they are quite entitled to expect the military to conform to that expectation.… Read more »

Elliott
Guest
Elliott

“I don’t think it really matters what the military might think of this issue any more. Society has moved on and restricting any role in any organisation based solely on gender just isn’t acceptable anymore. Like it or not the military are not separate from broader society, they are a part of it and are bound by the same broad social understandings as that society.“- A steaming pile of horse manure. Thank you for once more demonstrating this has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the institution of the Army and all to with ideology. As for whether society… Read more »

IKnowNothing
Guest
IKnowNothing

Elliott, we seem to represent two very different views on this issue, and perhaps ones that won’t find much common ground over this issue anytime soon.

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Having a good read of the comments here I thought id put my Oar in so to speak.Having worked in Metal Fabrication for 20 years,it was almost exclusively a male environment,it was very rare to have Women on the shop floor although now I suspect this should be changing.The last company I worked for as a Welder employed a young Lady,despite her being made welcome but without making a fuss of her she lasted no more than one and a half days.Now I work within the NHS,obviously being a predominantly Female environment I’m amazed at the fact that a lot… Read more »

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