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RAF first to grant women combat role

By Shaun Connolly

The Royal Air Force has become the first military service to open up all roles to men and women.

Women can now apply to join the RAF's ground-fighting force after the Government lifted the ban on females serving in close combat roles.

The 2,000-strong RAF Regiment is deployed to protect bases and airfields across the world and has sustained casualties in Afghanistan.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the change would lead to a more effective military when he announced the move in July.

"Individuals who are capable of meeting the standards for the regiment will be given the opportunity to serve, regardless of their gender," he said.

"This is a defining moment for the RAF."

However, Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said he was strongly opposed to plans to allow women to serve in the infantry from next year.

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