The Army is to scrap fitness tests that make allowances based on gender and age and will introduce new "gender and age-neutral" physical assessments, the Ministry of Defence has said.
The new tests, which will be rolled out next year, aim to ensure all close combat soldiers are physically prepared for the rigours of modern battle.
Field Army Sergeant Major Gavin Paton said:
"I don't care if you are a man or a woman, I don't care what you do, and the enemy doesn't either."
The new tests, devised over a period of three years in conjunction with the University of Chichester, aim to more closely replicate combat scenarios by mimicking real-life military tasks such as carrying casualties, moving through enemy lines and transporting equipment.
Lance Corporal Nicola Cotton of the Scots Guards agreed, saying she thought it was the right decision to make the test gender blind:
"People underestimate females in the British Army.
"I think it is about time we upped the ante and make it equal and not make allowances for gender or age.”
Under the new system soldiers will have to do a 4km march carrying 40kg of equipment in less than 40 minutes, followed by a 2km march carrying 25kg of equipment in under 15 minutes.
Soldiers will then have to complete a fire and move exercise in less than five minutes, followed by a 20m drag of a 110kg weight.
Finally, soldiers will have to carry bags weighing 20kg 20 times over a distance of 30m.
Under the old system, which hasn't been updated for 20 years, soldiers completed tasks including push-ups and sit-ups.
Sgt Maj Paton said he could not comment on whether the new tests would impact on the recruitment of women and older people into the Army, but anybody who meets the physical requirements is "more than welcome".
Similar changes to Army entry testing are set to be announced in December.