Australia Allows Female Soldiers In Combat Roles

In most countries, women aren't allowed to serve in combat roles. However, that doesn't mean they don't end up on the front lines, and female soldiers in the U.S. have complained that the restriction just means they aren't getting enough training for when they do end up in combat. Today Australia's military took a big step forward, announcing that women will soon be able to serve in the same roles as men.

The New York Times reports that women in the Australian Army will now be able to serve in all front-line combat positions, including the Special Forces, infantry and army artillery. Defense Minister Stephen Smith said:

"We have an Australian Army that's been going for 110 years, an Australian Navy that's been going formally for 100 years, and an Australian Air Force that's been going for 90 years, and last night, we resolved to remove the final restrictions on the capacity of women to serve in front-line combat roles ... In the future, your role in the defense force will be determined on your ability, not on the basis of your sex."

Women already make up 10% of Australia's forces fighting overseas. Previously restricted positions will become open to women over the next five years. At that point Australia will join Canada, Israel, and New Zealand as the only developed countries where women are free to serve in front-line combat roles. Hopefully this will provide the U.S. with more evidence that placing soldiers based on ability, not gender, only makes the military stronger.

Australia Says It Will Open Combat Roles to Women [NYT]

Earlier: Female Soldiers Challenge Gender Restrictions In Combat

Image via Darren Whitt/Shutterstock.