Women In RAF Regiment

Women are to be allowed to serve in the ground close combat roles in the RAF Regiment for the first time from September, the Defence Secretary has announced.

The Regiment was due to open its recruitment to women by the end of next year, but a recent review of work practices found in terms of risks, it was closer to the Royal Armoured Corps, which is already admitting women to its training ranks.

Sir Michael Fallon has revealed the news during this year's RAF's Air Power Conference in London.

The RAF Regiment is the Air Force’s ground fighting force, protecting RAF bases, aircraft and equipment at home and abroad.

The ban on women serving in close combat units was lifted in July 2016 by then-Prime Minister David Cameron.

Making the announcement, Sir Michael Fallon said: "A diverse force is a more operationally effective force. So I’m delighted that the RAF Regiment will be open to recruitment to women from September.

"Individuals who are capable of meeting the standards for the regiment will be given the opportunity to serve, regardless of their gender. This is a defining moment for the RAF, as it becomes the first service to have every trade and branch open to both genders."

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said: "The RAF is committed to providing equal opportunity to all so it's fantastic to be able to open recruitment to the RAF Regiment to women ahead of schedule.

"We want the best and most talented individuals to join the Air Force, regardless of their gender, race or background.

"A diverse force is a more effective force and we need the best people to deliver the important work we do, be it defeating Daesh in Iraq and Syria or protecting Britain's skies."

Since the ban was lifted, female soldiers have been allowed to enter the cavalry, infantry and armoured corps.

Previously, they were restricted to non-combat roles.

The changes have been introduced in phases, starting with the Royal Armoured Corps in November 2016, before being completed by 2018 to include the infantry and Royal Marines.

At the time, PM David Cameron said:

"It is vital that our Armed Forces are world-class and reflect the society we live in. Lifting this ban is a major step. 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."

However, previous Army's research suggests that fewer than 5% of its 7,000 women would pass the current infantry fitness test.

The Government has recently announced plans to attract more women into the Armed Forces by offering flexible working patterns to fit in with family life.

Last year, the Head of the British Army said he wanted to see 'more women in khaki':

General Sir Nick Carter said:

"By allowing women to serve in all roles, we will truly help to maximise the talent available to the Army and make the Armed Forces a modern employer."

The general has defended the decision in several occasions before, responding to criticisms that the Ministry of Defence is being motivated by political correctness.

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