Royal Marines in South Korea
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More Than 1,300 Women Enquire About Joining Royal Marines

It is two years since the then-Prime Minister, David Cameron, lifted the ban on women serving in ground close combat roles.

Royal Marines in South Korea

Forces News has seen figures revealing that more than 1,300 women have enquired about joining the Royal Marines, with 20 going on to begin a preliminary selection process.

It is two years since the then-Prime Minister, David Cameron, lifted the ban on women serving in ground close combat roles.

If the preliminary process is passed, they will be offered the chance to begin the Royal Marines' 32-week training course at Lympstone Commando Training Centre (CTC) in Devon early next year.

A Royal Navy spokesman said there had "already been early interest from female recruits".

"Last year a number of female recruits who had expressed an interest visited CTC Lympstone for a familiarisation visit," they added.

Female recruits will be provided with separate toilets and showers with lockable doors.

According to Professor Peter Roberts, the Director of Military Sciences at the Royal United Services Institute, and former Royal Navy Officer, Royal Marine recruits go through one of the “longest” and “most rigorous” infantry training courses in the world.

To achieve the coveted green beret, recruits must complete a nine-mile speed march in 90 minutes, and a six-mile endurance course in under 73 minutes, and 71 minutes for officers.

An aerial assault course must also be finished in under 13 minutes, and 12 minutes for officers, as well as a 30-mile march across Dartmoor while carrying equipment and a rifle in eight hours, and seven for officers.

The move to relax the rules came in July 2016 after extensive research, and a recommendation from the then-head of the British Army, General Sir Nick Carter.

At the time, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it would adopt a phased approach, starting with the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC), which would then be followed by the infantry, the Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment.

40 Commando Royal Marines during Exercise Joint Warrior
The Navy say there has been "already been early interest from female recruits" (Image: Crown Copyright).

Professor Roberts said the move "isn’t too new".

“Women have been serving on the frontline so-to-speak for decades now; Commanding Officers of ships, women flying fighter aircraft, bomber aircraft, on submarines, Combat Medics in Afghanistan.

"Really, this isn’t too new."

The decision to lift the ban saw the UK join Israel, Australia and the United States as among countries which allow women to serve on the front line.

Professor Roberts questioned: “Is it just about the male-female split? I think [the split] will just fade away into nothing – it is now nothing new, and so we will probably look on those that do not have a female part of the infantry section as slightly weaker than those that have males.

“The future bodes much better for all roles of the military with females fully embedded within them."