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Emma Barnett visits the Canadian army to find out what life is like for women serving on the military front line, and she explores whether the British Army might change its rules to let women serve in these positions.
In early 2013, the United States Secretary of Defense announced that US armed forces would soon open positions in ground close combat units - those designed to close with and engage the enemy - to women.
In Canada those posts have been open for nearly 20 years. In this programme Emma visits Brenda Hawke, a soldier who has served 16 years in the infantry, and Ashley Colette, an officer who received one of Canada's highest awards for her leadership of a combat unit in Afghanistan, to find out the reality of combat for women. And she speaks to Colonel Jennie Carignan, one of the Canadian Army's most senior women, about the challenges the organisation faced in integrating women.
The British armed forces last reviewed their exclusion of women from these roles in 2010, and are not due to reconsider until 2017-18. But the American decision leaves the UK isolated amongst close allies, and Emma speaks to the Chief of Defence Personnel at the Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory, to ask whether the UK may now bring forward that review.
Producer: Giles Edwards.