27 September 2011

Women in Combat for Australia

The Australian military is opening frontline combat roles to women

Australia opened frontline combat roles to women for the first time in its history under a new policy allowing all military positions to be filled on merit rather than gender.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith on Tuesday said the changes, approved by the cabinet on Monday night, would give women access to the seven percent of military roles currently restricted to men.
Only three of Australia's military partners allow women on the frontlines -- New Zealand, Canada and Israel, Smith said.
The new policy will be phased in over five years to ensure that female combatants had the necessary training and preparation, he added, describing it as a major cultural and operational shift.
"From this day forward... no combat roles, no frontline role will be excluded from an Australian on the basis of his or her sex, it will be open to anyone to apply on the basis of merit," Smith told reporters.
"This is a significant and major cultural change."
But opponents of the move condemned it as a "political gimmick and a distraction".
Women currently account for about 10,000 of the 81,000 full- and part-time positions in Australia's armed forces, with the newly open roles mainly as frontline infantry and artillery soldiers, naval clearance divers and airfield guards.
Widely supported by military chiefs, Smith said the changes would not prescribe female ratios for frontline positions and it was "entirely a matter for the men and women of the defence force to put their names forward for a particular role".

Here's the kicker that'll make it work:

New guidelines will be developed outlining the physical and mental requirements for elite jobs and both men and women would have to satisfy them.

By: Brant

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