Women to join British infantry

LONDON - Women could be allowed to serve in British infantry units for the first time by 2016.

An Army review of the ban on women serving in close combat has concluded the change would not have an "adverse effect" on troop cohesion.

But more research is needed to assess the "physiological demands", a review for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said roles "should be determined by ability and not gender".

He said he hoped to introduce the change "subject to some final research over the next year or so". An initial report is expected in 2016.

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said military sources have told the BBC there is now a "real desire" among ministers to end the restrictions.

He said the review on women serving in the infantry, commissioned in May, has put to rest some of the old arguments that barred them, such as that women lack the killer instinct and could undermine a unit's cohesion, affecting its ability to fight.

Kevan Jones, Labour's shadow armed forces minister, welcomed the move.

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