UK says women can serve in combat roles in army, marines

LONDON (AP) — Women can now serve in all roles in Britain’s military, including front-line combat units and the special forces.

Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the change Thursday, saying “the idea that we are excluding half the population from some of these most vital roles potentially holds our armed forces back.”

British women already serve as fighter pilots, sailors and submariners, but were long barred from army units whose primary role is close-quarters combat. The ban was lifted in 2016, and the change has been made in stages. The Armored Corps admitted women in 2016, followed by the RAF Regiment in 2017.

Williamson said women can now apply for all army units and the previously all-male Royal Marines.

Countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia and Israel already allow women in combat roles.

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