Melbourne: Australia might allow women soldiers to fight in frontline combat units under proposed equal opportunity guidelines.
The measure aims to remove blanket restrictions which earlier stopped women from joining frontline infantry units and also to woo more females into the armed forces.
The proposal was outlined by the Defence Personnel Minister Greg Combet during a debate in parliament yesterday, which triggered a massive discussion on whether women can meet the challenging physical demands required on the frontline.
Combet said the government will not make any decision until the new physical standards of armed forces recruitment were finalised.
"My own view is that all categories should be open to women in armed forces," the minister told the parliament.
Canada, New Zealand, Israel and some other western nations allow women to serve in combat roles. Australian woman already serve in frontlines roles in Afghanistan, but are
restricted to non-combat units.
Combet said government wanted to break down gender barriers in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) by reviewing who does what based on physical capabilities, rather than
Women now make up around 13 per cent of ADF personnel but the Government would like that number to increase.
A high-ranking Australian Army officer has backed Combet`s move. First Brigade Commander Brigadier Michael Krause said it has been an "enormous generalisation" that
women are not strong enough for the job.