Australia Opens Combat Jobs to Women
Becomes fourth developed country to place no restrictions on women in military
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2011 7:35 AM CDT
In this Nov. 19, 2008 image provided by the Australian Defense Force, Air Craft Woman Recruit Stacey Lesbirel is in the field training area at the RAAF base in Wagga Wagga, Australia.   (AP Photo/Australian Defense Force, LAC, or Leading Air Craftsman Aaron Curran)

(Newser) – Another step for women's equality: Australia's military has become the fourth in the world to allow women to take on front-line combat roles. Announced today, the move opens some of the country's most dangerous combat jobs to women, including Special Forces positions in Afghanistan and some army artillery slots. Australian women are currently prevented from doing 7% of military jobs, and those restrictions will be dropped over a five-year implementation period, reports the New York Times.

"In the future, your role in the defense force will be determined on your ability, not on the basis of your sex," proclaimed the defense minister. But an Australian security think tank questions the costs, notes the AP. "You've got to worry about the risk of disproportionate female casualties compared to men and the minister's announcement really doesn't indicate that he's across all that detail," says its executive director, who says the sexes' biomechanical differences make even physically strong women more vulnerable in combat. Currently, Canada, Israel, and New Zealand place no restriction on women's combat roles.