Institutional sexism in the British Army

FORGIVE my wry smile when I read that the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, is urging bringing forward a review of whether women should be able to join the infantry and the armoured corps in the British Army from 2018 to later this year (“Women head for front line combat in armed forces”, your report, 8 May).

 I wrote a piece for a military magazine along exactly these lines when a serving 
officer about 20 years ago, and was told it couldn’t ­possibly be published because the idea was simply “preposterous”.

How times have changed – or have they?

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There is still institutionalised bias against women in combat units from the die-hard brigade in the army who can think of any number of excuses why women should not serve alongside the men.

My view is that fear of the competition is probably the true reason for such resistance; in my experience, women make excellent ­soldiers, and with them now flying fast combat jets and serving in submarines, the army is being forced to fall into line, and not before time. True, it may be that not many women will seek to fill such roles, but gender equality demands they be at least given the opportunity.

Stuart Crawford

Lieutenant-Colonel (Retd)


North Berwick

East Lothian