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Admiral: 'Front line women are huge success'


War Hero
Book Reviewer
A former first sea lord has said the armed forces are better off with women serving alongside men. Admiral Sir Alan West said introducing women to the front line had been a 'huge success'.

'I have been very impressed by the quality and capability of women, particularly in the Royal Navy, but across all three forces', he said.

'The question is simply who is the best person to do the best job?'

The role of women in the military has been brought to the forefront by the death of the first female soldier in Afghanistan.

Sarah Bryant, 26, was killed along with three SAS men when their lightly-armoured Land Rover hit a Taliban mine on Tuesday.

Adml West, who wrote the report recommending women be allowed to serve in warships at sea almost 20 years ago, said: 'The loss of any life is very sad but the fact that it is a woman seems irrelevant – it is the loss of a human life when people are doing a job bravely that is the tragedy.'

He added: 'I think it was the correct decision to send women to sea and I think the Royal Navy is the better for it.'

During filming for this week's Question Time at The Guildhall in Portsmouth, panel members were asked if it was 'ethical' for women to serve on the front line.

Top politicians agreed they should be allowed to fight in any scenario deemed fit for their skill and expertise.

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock, a member of the defence select committee, said yesterday: 'This sad and tragic event, in which the first woman has died has brought home the poignancy that the battle is being fought by all the armed forces, irrespective of gender. I think it is a credit to the armed forces that all people are treated equally and fairly.

'There should certainly be women on the front line – if they sign up to the job and feel they are up to it they should be allowed to use their skills.'



Delighted to be able to say none, we need to remember that women sailors have yet to prove themselves in action. Personally I hope that day never comes and not for the reason that I could be proved wrong.


War Hero
The manpower problems are that bad that if we didnt have girl sailors we couldnt man our ships with enough people.


HMS Brilliant had women in her ship's company during the first Gulf War. The ships deployed to support Telic have had women amongst their crews. There are plenty of female RN personnel deployed ashore on Operations Telic and Herrick. Female RN doctors (me included) and QARRNS have been staffing the field hospitals for years.

Is that enough action for you?


War Hero
Book Reviewer
FN: I am speaking as a relapsed Socialist myself, but I find it sad to see that your version of the ideology does not extend to sexual equality then... :roll:
finknottle said:
Delighted to be able to say none, we need to remember that women sailors have yet to prove themselves in action. Personally I hope that day never comes and not for the reason that I could be proved wrong.

How patronising, not to say insulting. I'd prefer not to see women in the frontline either but not because they have anything to prove. What makes you think women sailors would be any different in action from these females?

First female honoured for bravery

First woman DFC wears her uniform with pride

Woman Soldier Receives Silver Star

Military Woman Receives Silver Star

Wife 'died a hero' in Afghanistan


sgtpepperband, they like to think they are but they are not really, it's like this modern cliche, 'we women can multi- task you men can't'. Correct, we like to do one task at time and do it well, then move on not make a pigs ear of 10.

NG, only time will tell.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
FN: The more you try to justify your point of view the more you are backing yourself into a corner. I don't know whether you are being intentionally antagonistic, but once again your out-of-date opinion (be it sexual equality, race, class, etc.) is totally out of touch with the modern Royal Navy. And your so-called belief in Socialism.

When I joined up, there were no females at sea. It was never an option. However in 1991, on my third ship, we received the first batch of females. Now remember, these were volunteers, not like females today who are required to serve at sea as part of their terms of service. And I can honestly say, every one of that first batch proved many critics and philistines wrong, and even changed a few attitudes about them too. Sure there were logisitcal issues regarding messing and ablutions, but we dealt with it and moved on with our lives, as matelots do.

Since then I have had more ships - some 'stag' and some mixed - and, although different in atmosphere, I have no problem with females on board. And any male who still serves today that shares your point of view (and I doubt there are many, to be honest) is probably doing so to be intentionally contentious and provacative, as there are not many matelots still in who can remember the days before females went to sea; seagoing females have been part of the RN long before some of the lads today were out of nappies.

As a former Tas Ape (and also a Killick AcPS in the Ops Room) and then as a Regulator on patrols in stressful and violent situations, I have never had any reason to question my female colleagues' attitude or professionalism. Sure there have been some idiots who have had crap personalities, but that is not gender specific - I have met far more male ******* in the RN than female ones.

Spend some time with some seagoing Wrens, Fink, then form an opinion. Your previous reply to my original question speaks volumes about your point of view.


finknottle said:
Much as I admire you’re chosen profession you are seeing the results of action so not really?

Remind me of that next time I'm flat on my face in the Iraqi dust as someone fires rockets at us.

The next time I deploy I will be off to Afghanistan to do the MERT job and I think even you might consider that "action".
finknottle said:
Much as I admire you’re chosen profession you are seeing the results of action so not really?

You expose more ignorance with each post. Do you really reckon that female MERT personnel only see the results of action?
I think you'd better read this Times Online article before you dig yourself in any deeper:

Bullets, blood and bravery on the 999 run in Afghanistan



War Hero
Book Reviewer
"Doc, help me! I'm losing consciousness... it's like being in a vacuum... almost as if... someone's sucking out all the oxygen..." 8O :roll:
drwibble said:
finknottle said:
Much as I admire you’re chosen profession you are seeing the results of action so not really?

Remind me of that next time I'm flat on my face in the Iraqi dust as someone fires rockets at us.

The next time I deploy I will be off to Afghanistan to do the MERT job and I think even you might consider that "action".

Well i for one would like to express my gratitude to you for the work you are doing as part of the MERT teams doc. I work as a NHS Paramedic but know that what you guys are doing is far far more important than the job i do mopping up drunks and scumbags off Britains streets with the occasional poorly person thrown in. I also sometimes get involved with the repatriation phase to SOH and see what the injured guys are going through.

Thank you very much

A grateful former Bootneck

As for FN. Your just an out of date dinosaur whose opinions are invalid in the day and age so do one matey!!
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