When chauvinism saves lives
Women could soon be fighting on the front line alongside men as a rule preventing it is set to be relaxed.
Former defence secretary Philip Hammond launched a review into women in combat in May, which is being overseen by General Sir Nicholas Carter.
When it is concluded, which could be this week, it may give women the chance to act in the same roles and men.
Currently, women can be on the front line and very close to the enemy when serving as medics, intelligence specialists, artillery spotters, logisticians or signallers.
However, they remain barred from all infantry battalions and Royal Marine Commando units – including Special Forces – and from tank regiments and other armoured units.
But the ban has not stopped women from being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan - where they face a risk from bombs even away from the front line.
In total, eight women have been killed in combat in the conflicts - which is just over 1 per cent of the total deaths.
Now, in theory, women could be allowed to join the Special Forces, such as the SAS. But to do so they would be expected to pass the unit’s gruelling mental and physical selection process.
But some are concerned about the practical issues that allowing women into all-male infantry units would cause - including where they would be housed.Colonel Richard Kemp, a former officer who led troops in Afghanistan, said he believes the review will almost certainly recommend a greater combat role for women - but he believes it is a 'bad idea' that will create divisiveness.He told The Times: 'If anything, I think it will be damaging for the army because it will probably lead to a reduction in physical standards because they will want to be seen to make it work.'
He added: 'I have not spoken to a single serving infantry soldier who is not horrified by it.'
Major Judith Webb, who retired from the Army in 1986, also opposes close combat roles for women.
‘We have to accept that we are different physiologically,’ she said. ‘We don’t have the same upper-body strength.’ [Didact: You don't say?!]
And there is absolutely no question that sooner or later, the very same physical standards that made units like the US Marine Corps and the British Royal Marines some of the most feared and respected in the world, will eventually be relaxed so that "diversity" and "tolerance" and a "vibrant" military can be put forward as political eye-candy for the purpose of winning votes, rather than winning actual wars.