The Royal Marines Commandos are one of the world's elite amphibious forces, and now women can rank amongst them.
Following the MoD's decision to allow women into combat roles, the Royal Marines have already set out what they expect from women considering taking on one of the most arduous military basic training regimes in the world.
And no, they won't need to shave their hair.
1. Will female recruits have to achieve the same tests and physical standards that male commandos did?
A. Initially, there will be no limit on the height and weight for women (men have to be a minimum of 65kg). It takes 32 weeks to transform civilians into Royal Marines Commandos (64 weeks for officers). The training culminates in four Commando tests, all completed carrying at least 21lb of kit and a rifle.
There's anine-mile speed march in 90 minutes, aTarzan assault course, a six-mile endurance course and finally, the famed 30-miler across Dartmoor, carrying around 40lbs in under eight hours (for recruits) and under seven (for officers). It’s no laughing matter – just last year it claimed the life of a Royal Marine trainee.
The time, distance and weight criteria will be exactly the same for women in all four tests.
The famed Dartmoor 30-miler
2. Will female commandos be able to see female doctors?
A. Male doctors are the only ones available during training, but female medical assistants are available upon request during consultations.
3. Will female commandos have to shower with their male counterparts?
A. No. Mixed showering is strictly prohibited under all circumstances. There are separate showers with lockable doors.
4. Will female commandos be required to sleep in the same accommodation as men?
A. Yes, because it is important to maintaining troop cohesion and to make sure women aren't isolated at the CTCRM (the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, where all Royal Marines ranks and officers are trained). This differs from tri-service rules that apply to the Army, Navy, and RAF.
(Picture: N Chadwick)
The first two weeks in the Royal Marines are spent in 'foundation', where around 60 new recruits sleep in one open dorm before moving into smaller grouped accommodation. Until now, the CTCRM has been predominantly male with the exception of women taking on the All Arms Commando Course - a nine-week course for Army, Navy or RAF personnel who want their Green Beret and Commando flashes.
5. Will female commandos be required to cut their hair short?
A. No, but on duty their hair must be groomed neatly and not longer than the lower edge of a recruit's shirt collar, and if it is long it must be tied up (preferably in a bun). Hair pins and nets should be a similar colour to the hair, and if the hair is dyed, it should be a natural colour.
6. Is it okay for female commandos to wear make-up?
A. In line with the rest of the military, discreet make-up is permitted outside of working hours, but no make-up should be worn during the working day.
7. Is there to be physical contact with men during PT (Physical Training)?
A. There will be, but only as needed for the task at hand.
8. What happens to female recruits who get pregnant during training?
A. They will be removed from training for the wellbeing and safety of the child and put into another role at the CTCRM (Commando Training Centre Royal Marines).
"This isn’t just a day job, it’s a lifestyle."
9. Will there be female trainers or other contacts for issues of welfare?
A. There will be. The Corps has several female-trained ranks in a range of positions who will be available to potential female commandos for pastoral support and guidance.
Female military personnel attached to 42 Commando in Afghanistan - one served in the Counter Improvised Explosive Device Task Force, 28 Engineer Regiment, the other as the Female Engagement Team Operator (FET)
10. Is there going to be maternity leave for female commandos, and are there childcare facilities?
A. Yes, in line with current defence policy, but there are not yet any childcare facilities.
11. Will female commandos be barred from taking on certain specialist roles?
A. No. All job roles, including the full range of specialist qualifications, will be available to female commandos. That means following the completion of basic training they can go on to become snipers, mountain leaders or physical training instructors.
"The fact that you’re even reading this sets you apart from most men –and even more women. The constant physical and mental challenge isn’t for everyone. You probably wouldn’t be interested if it were."
12. Will female commandos have to wear the same uniform and receive the same pay?
A. Yes and yes. One additional point to note - the age ranges that can apply are also the same. Men and women can join the Royal Marines between the ages of 16 and 32.