Home » Letting women join front-line Army fighting units a ‘failed exercise in political correctness’

Letting women join front-line Army fighting units a ‘failed exercise in political correctness’

The decision to allow women to join front-line Army fighting units has been described as a “failed exercise in political correctness” after government figures revealed that only 10 female recruits started infantry and Royal Armoured Corps basic training last year.

Just 15 female recruits completed basic training for either infantry or tank units between January and September 2023, figures released in a freedom of information request obtained by The Telegraph also showed.

Fewer than five trained female soldiers transferred into either the armoured corps or the infantry from other army units, while no female recruits have passed Royal Marines training, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Almost 50 per cent of female recruits who started recruit basic training for either the infantry or the armoured corps since 2019 failed to complete the course, the FOI disclosed.

One former defence chief claimed on Saturday that opening up combat roles to female recruits was more about political correctness rather than any benefit to the Army.

Another former senior Army officer said that many women were being put off joining front-line units amid numerous allegations of rape and sexual discrimination.

The disclosure emerged after Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said that women were the solution to the Armed Forces recruitment crisis.

In an interview with The Telegraph in January, Mr Shapps said: “Something which I’m extremely passionate about is actually having a military which should represent our country as it is today

“It can’t be right that our military still only has 11 or 12 per cent women, for example, when they make up half the population.”

But the MoD’s own figures show that since 2019, just 85 women have joined the infantry and 45 have joined the Royal Armoured Corps (RAC).

The figures mean that out of 24,000 tank and infantry personnel just 130 are women, which equates to about 0.5 per cent. Of the approximately 6,000 soldiers in the RAC about 45 are female, equivalent to 0.75 per cent.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a former British infantry commander in Afghanistan, said: “It is no surprise that very few women want to volunteer to serve as tank crews.
The same will go for the Infantry. After drop-outs and test failures, the numbers will be negligible. Having a very tiny minority of women serving in what will remain pretty much all-male units will be counterproductive and harmful to morale and combat effectiveness.

“The whole thing will turn out to be a very costly, damaging and futile exercise in political correctness – funded of course by the taxpayer. The Army did not want this, but it was forced on them by politically correct politicians.”

In December 2018, then defence secretary Gavin Williamson announced that all roles within the Army, including “close combat units” such as the infantry and tank units, along with the SAS, would be open to women.

At the time Williamson praised the day as a defining moment in the history of the Armed Forces. He said:“I am delighted that for the first time in its history, our Armed Forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender.

“So by opening all combat roles to women, we will maximise the talents available to our military and further make the Armed Forces a more modern employer.”

The MoD also said that it planned to increase the number of female troops so that they comprise 30 per cent of the Army – a figure equivalent to almost 22,000 personnel – by 2030.

There are currently about 9,000 female troops serving in the Army so for defence chiefs to reach their own target of  30 per cent they will need to increase female numbers threefold  within six years.

Col Philip Ingram, a former Military Intelligence officer said: “Since the MoD opened all roles in the services numbers of women joining the arms, infantry and armoured corps have been pitifully small. This is for a number of reasons. The MoD are still playing at equality, and misogyny remains rife and this is reflected in recruitment.

“MoD targets for women in the RAC and infantry are and will remain totally unachievable until defence wakes up to the fact that it doesn’t have all the answers itself and needs help to properly understand the issues around its people.”

A MoD spokesman said: “All roles in our Armed Forces are open to women – including ground close combat and armoured roles – because we want to recruit the best people to serve the country. This is about opportunity, fairness and maximising the potential pool of talent.

“Anyone who has the drive and capability to succeed will get the chance to do so.”