David Cameron has lifted a ban on women serving in close combat roles in the British military.
Women were previously allowed to serve on the front line, but could not “close with and kill the enemy”.
The outgoing Prime Minister asked that the change be implemented “as soon as possible”.
David Cameron announced today that the ban has been lifted, following a recommendation by the head of the Army, General Sir Nick Carter.
An ex-army Colonel has warned that allowing female soldiers to fight on the front line would be “foolish” and could put lives at risk.
Speaking in April, former Colonel Richard Kemp described the idea as a “social engineering experiment” and urged the Government not to lift the ban.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said: “This foolish move will reduce the capability of the infantry, undermine our national defences and put lives in danger.”
Kemp pointed out that only a “very small number” of women want to join the infantry and that only a fraction of these would have the physical ability to do so.
It is not yet clear if the new policy will require women to serve in close combat roles in the event of conscription.
In the United States a similar change is provoking opposition as lawmakers consider whether to subject women to mandatory military service in wartime.