Britain lifts ban on women in frontline combat army roles

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Britain is lifting a ban on women serving in frontline combat roles in the army, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Friday.

Cameron, who is attending a NATO conference in Warsaw, Poland, said he had accepted a recommendation from the head of the Army, Gen. Nick Carter, that women should be allowed to serve in ground close-combat roles.

He said the decision would be implemented "as soon as possible."

"It is vital that our armed forces are world-class and reflect the society we live in," Cameron said in a statement. "Lifting this ban is a major step. It will ensure the armed forces can make the most of all their talent and increase opportunities for women to serve in the full range of roles."

Until now British women have been able to serve as fighter pilots, sailors and submariners but not in infantry or armored corps units whose primary role is close-quarters combat.

In 2014 the defense ministry ordered an 18-month review of the physical demands of combat and combat training to make sure female soldiers will not suffer long-term detrimental effects to their health.

Countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia and Israel already allow women in combat roles.