UK

British Army Ex-Commander Says Women Dont Have 'Warrior Ethos' To Serve On Frontline

19/11/2014 10:34 GMT | Updated 19/11/2014 11:59 GMT

Many women lack the "killer instinct" needed to fight in wars and allowing them to serve on the frontline would harm the Army's "warrior ethos", a former commander in Afghanistan has said.

Ex-Colonel Richard Kemp told The Daily Mail that allowing women to join infantry or tank regiments would damage the military's fighting ability as the government continues a six-month review into the ban.

women british army

These bomb disposal experts would be terrible on the frontline, according to one ex-army senior officer

Women can serve in the army but not in the infantry and tank regiments. However, the lack of a "frontline" in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars meant members of the support regiments, such as the engineers and medics, were caught up in the fighting and among those killed, including women.

Six women died in action in Iraq and three died in Afghanistan. They included Corporal Sarah Bryant, who was killed when her Snatch Land Rover was destroyed by a roadside bomb in Helmand.

In Basra, one roadside bomb attack on a Warrior armoured vehicle killed four soldiers, including two women, Lieutenant Jo Dyer and Private Eleanor Dlugosz, in April, 2007. Lt Dyer was an intelligence officer and Pte Dlugosz was a medic.

Women already serve in a wide variety of combat roles across the armed forces, including fighter pilots, sailors and, as of last year, submariners.

Earlier this year, then-defence secretary Philip Hammond brought forward the review into the ban on women serving with infantry and tank regiments, saying he wanted to "send a message" that military careers were fully open to women.

But Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan in 2006, said: "Inclusion of women in the infantry is certain to result in a lowering of physical standards despite the inevitable denials that this will happen.

richard kemp colonel

Richard Kemp (right) said women serving in the infantry would diminish the army's 'warrior ethos'

"This would damage the fighting capabilities of the armed forces. It would be harmful to the cohesion of the army because of the nature of the role.

"They have to attack the enemy and kill him face to face with bullets, bayonets, grenades and sometimes with their bare hands.

"A killer instinct and aggression is more of a male characteristic. I am not saying no women have this but in the same way many would not want to be in combat roles on the front line, many do not have this killer instinct.

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The review, led by current head of the Army General Sir Peter Wall, is due to make recommendations by the end of the year.

Announcing the review in May, Hammond said: "The image of the military is still a macho image - the last bastion of male chauvinism. The reality is very different.

"But in the army we still don't allow women in the combat arms - in the infantry and in the Armoured Corps.

"I think that at a time when the Americans, the Australians, the Canadians, even the French - the Israelis of course for years - have women in their combat arms, this is something we have to look at again."

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