Theresa May salutes first female British Army officer bound for frontline combat job

Ben Farmer
Prime Minister Theresa May represents HM The Queen at the Sovereign's Parade - Paul Grover

The Prime Minister has spoken of her pride at witnessing the Sandhurst graduation of the first female officer commissioned into a British Army ground close combat regiment.

The unnamed female soldier will join the Royal Tank Regiment after the Army last year scrapped its ban on women in frontline ground fighting jobs.

Theresa May confirmed the milestone at the academy’s Sovereign’s Parade where she saw 190 cadets graduate after completing their 44 weeks of training.

Mrs May confirmed the milestone at the academy’s Sovereign’s Parade Credit: Paul Grover /The Telegraph

The Ministry of Defence refused to name the female officer and Army chiefs have said they are keen to keep her out of the public eye while she completes the next 20-week phase of her training.

A total of 17 British Army female cadets graduated from the Royal Military Academy, in Surrey, with the others all destined for non-combat roles.

Theresa May told the parade the new second lieutenant came from her constituency of Maidenhead and said her graduation was “something of which we should all be incredibly proud”.

David Cameron last year announced the military would overturn hundreds of years of British military tradition to allow women to serve in close ground combat roles. Women had previously been banned from military roles where “where the primary role is to close with and kill the enemy”.

Jobs in armoured units are being offered first, with places in infantry units expected to be opened to female applicants by the end of 2018.

A total of 17 British Army female officer cadets graduated and commanders refused to identify which one has been commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment Credit:  Paul Grover for the Telegraph

An Army spokesman said: “We can confirm that the first female officer has commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment and will now go on to begin her training to qualify as a Royal Armoured Corps Troop Leader.

“This is a result of the decision to enable women to serve in ground close combat roles and we wish her every success.”

Service chiefs unanimously backed the change after two years of study of whether women are fit for the rigours of combat and whether they would undermine the Armed Forces fighting power.  

Prime Minister Theresa May represents Queen Elizabeth II at the Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Credit:  Paul Grover/The Daily Telegraph

 

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