THE lifting of a ban on women serving in front-line roles has been welcomed by MPs across the Portsmouth area.
Women had previously served there only in support roles but will now be allowed to enter the cavalry, infantry and armoured corps.
Prime minister David Cameron announced the scrapping of the ban yesterday and said it was a ‘major step’ and meant the armed forces could ‘make the most of all its talent’.
Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond admitted it was a ‘major departure’ from previous policy and said the government is still looking at the ‘physiological aspects’ of having women in close combat.
She added: ‘However, many armies do already allow women at the front line including the Israelis, Australia, India and New Zealand, who also have them in special forces.
‘We have already seen the contribution of Yazidi and Kurdish women fighting Daesh so there should be no reason that British women cannot serve extremely capably in close-combat roles.
‘British female soldiers have already died in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq including one from my old reserve unit, the Intelligence Corps.
‘I am pleased that women are now taking up top roles in the armed forces and know this contributes to leadership and decision making enhancing the effectiveness of our defence capabilities.’
Havant MP Alan Mak said: ‘The service chiefs last month unanimously recommended the move following a detailed study of the issue.
‘We’ve already lifted a number of barriers in our armed forces with the introduction of female submariners and women reaching the highest ranks in all services. We now continue with the Armed Forces’ reforms by opening up some ground combat roles to women.’
Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North and armed forces minister, was not available for comment yesterday.
The army’s research suggests fewer than five per cent of its 7,000 women would pass the current infantry fitness test. Announcing the move at a Nato summit in Warsaw, Poland, Mr Cameron said: ‘It is vital that our armed forces are world-class and reflect the society we live in.
‘It will ensure the armed forces can make the most of all their talent and increase opportunities for women to serve in the full range of roles.’
The opening of roles are expected to be phased, initially with positions in cavalry and armoured units.