The Army has dropped fitness standards to allow more female recruitsCurrent affairs
British Army recruits’ fitness standards have been reduced in order to encourage more women to join.
After the US army declared their willingness to allow women soldiers on the front line, Major Judith Webb, the first woman to lead an all-male field force in the Army, warned about a possible deterioration of standards.
Major Webb said women should not be employed in infantry units where they would come “close with and kill the enemy at close quarters”.
She declared being “horrified” to discover that recruitment standards for both male and female recruits had been already adjusted for “military fitness” and “combat effectiveness”.
The former officer, who left the Army in 1986, said yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t want to reduce standards of fitness for male soldiers, for infantry soldiers, in order to meet what women can do.”
When pushed by the presenter she remarked: “By opening it up to women, are women shooting themselves in the foot? Because they are not going to be able to meet those standards.”
According to Major Webb, who served in the 28th Signal Regiment in Germany and Cyprus, a reduction of military standards in order to allow women in active combat roles would not only reduce the efficiency of military response at large but also affect the British public that is still shocked when a woman soldier dies in a war zone.
She added: “I still think that it is not benefiting women, who can and do such a good job in so many different roles.”
Major Judith Webb’s remarks were prompted by the announcement made yesterday by the Pentagon that women would be allowed to serve in combat roles in the US military for the first time.
Leon Panetta, the US Secretary of Defense will open up hundreds of posts to women, perhaps even including the Special Forces.
In the UK, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said there were no such plans for reviewing women’s exclusion from active combat roles.