ARMED forces minister Penny Mordaunt insists women can make the grade – amid a review into whether both sexes should be allowed to fight on the frontline in conflict areas together.
Women are prevented from joining infantry battalions, armoured regiments and the Royal Marines.
But that could be about to change this year following the end of a six-month review which is overseen by the head of the army.
The Portsmouth North MP championed women’s role in the forces shortly after seeing two female soldiers take part in a firing exercise during a visit to an army training unit near Brecon, mid-Wales.
Wearing a flak jacket and camouflage helmet, she said: ‘Women are already on the frontline. But clearly there are particular trades that have been closed off.
‘I think we are doing something a bit different from other nations which have tended to focus on whether women can make the grade.
‘Well, it’s clear they can make the grade in the military across lots of different roles.
‘We are looking at if you can put women in these trades, can they endure at least the average length of career.
‘It’s no good getting through the training course, passing all of that, if you can’t actually can’t have a career in the profession that you want to serve in.
‘We are doing an additional piece of work looking at the physiology of women, why men and women have particular injuries and looking at what we can do to mitigate that and support them better.’
Ms Mordaunt visited the Infantry Battle School, based at Dering Lines, Brecon, which is the largest military training area in Wales.
The MP witnessed Dismounted Close Combat course in the barren Sennybridge Training Area facility - which saw students use live ammunition.
An army spokesman said: ‘The exercise is designed to be physically and conceptually demanding to reflect the character of modern conflict.’
Ms Mordaunt’s remarks came just days after reports of that two female British soliders, fighting alongside the SAS, were involved in a shootout against Isil in Iraq.
The women, both in their twenties, were part of the elite Special Reconnaissance Regiment, when they were ambushed.