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The Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced the ban on women serving in ground close combat roles is to be lifted, at the NATO summit on 8 July 2016.

The ban prevented women from serving in units that have as their primary role close combat with the enemy, known ground close combat roles. These are infantry, the Royal Armoured Corps, the Household Cavalry, the Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment. All other units in the armed forces are open to women.

The law allows the armed forces to exclude women from those posts where the military judgement is that the employment of women would undermine and degrade Combat Effectiveness. The Government is required to periodically review whether this exclusion should be maintained.

The Government began a review of the policy in 2014 and the resulting paper suggested a period of further physiological research was required to inform a decision in mid-2016. The Prime Minister, Defence Secretary and head of the Army had given strong backing to lifting the exclusion.

Many countries allow women to serve in ground close combat roles, including the United States, which from April 2016 will allow qualified women to serve in every role in the US military.

This briefing paper was written before the lifting of the ban was lifted. It will be updated to reflect the decision, details of which can be found on the Ministry of Defence website.

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