Aussies May Let Female Soldiers Fight

Proposal sparks fierce debate over women's fitness for combat role
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2009 7:04 AM CDT
Soldiers from the the 4th Field Artillery Regiment run to their guns during an Army fire power demonstration at Range Control, High Range in Townsville, Australia.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The Australian military may change its guidelines to allow women soldiers to serve in front-line combat roles, the AP reports. The country's defense minister says he believes all service roles should be open to women if they can meet the physical demands, and the move may help persuade more females to sign up. Women, who make up 15% of Australian forces, are currently limited to noncombat support roles.

He argues that better bombs, protection, and camouflage have made combat jobs a bit easier to do. But he "has never parachuted at night in the rain, he's never carried a mortar baseplate for 50 kilometers in a route march," said an opposition lawmaker who served in the military. "For him to stand there and give his opinion and push the government into something is simply outrageous." Canada, New Zealand, Israel, and a few European countries allow women to serve in combat roles.