UK’s Cameron wants women in army combat roles next year
British Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants front-line combat roles opened up to female soldiers by the end of 2016.
Cameron said Dec. 20 that he and Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and “are united in wanting to see all roles in our armed forces opened up to women in 2016,” including “ground combat roles.”
British women can serve as fighter pilots, sailors and submariners but not in infantry or armored corps units whose primary role is close-quarters combat.
Last year the government approved having women in combat, subject to a review of the physical demands to ensure female soldiers won’t suffer long-term detrimental effects to their health. The review is to publish its report in mid-2016.
Countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia and Israel already allow women in combat roles. AP
U.S. defense chief visits French, U.S. warships in Persian Gulf
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has met with naval commanders on U.S. and French warships in the Persian Gulf — and he’s promising there’s more to come in the battle against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Carter visited the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which is expected to begin launching airstrikes against IS from the Gulf soon.
He also talked to American troops on the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship that’s been supporting coalition missions in Iraq and Syria.
Carter’s visit to Charles de Gaulle underscores the increased participation of France in the fight, in the wake of the Paris attacks last month.
IS militants claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds. AP
China accuses U.S. of serious military provocation
China Dec. 19 accused the U.S. of committing a “serious military provocation” by flying an Air Force B-52 strategic bomber over a Chinese-controlled man-made island in the South China Sea.
China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. is deliberately raising tensions in the disputed region where China has been aggressively asserting its claims to virtually all islands, reefs and their surrounding seas.
“The actions by the U.S. side constitute a serious military provocation and are rendering more complex and even militarizing conditions in the South China Sea.,” the statement said. It demanded Washington immediately take measures to prevent such incidents and damage to relations between the two nations’ militaries.
The statement said Chinese military personnel on the island went on high alert during the Dec. 10 overflight and issued warnings demanding the aircraft leave the area. As it has in past, the ministry also said it would take whatever necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and security.
The U.S. takes no official stance on sovereignty claims in the strategically crucial sea through which $5 trillion in international trade passes each year.
However, Washington insists on freedom of navigation through the sea and its airspace and maintains that China’s seven newly created islands do not enjoy traditional rights including a 12-nautical mile (22-kilometer) territorial limit.
News reports quoted Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban as saying in Washington that China had raised its complaints over the flight and the U.S. was investigating.
However, Urban said the flight was not a “freedom of navigation” operation, indicating that the plane may have strayed off course. The U.S. uses pre-planned freedom of navigation operations to assert its rights to “innocent passage” in other country’s territorial waters.
Critics in the U.S. say freedom of navigation operations around the man-made islands appear to contradict Washington’s assertions that they have no right to territorial waters in the first place.
Actions by the U.S. and others challenging Chinese sovereignty claims in the South China have drawn increasingly strident responses from Beijing.
Beijing complained when the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in October, and China’s navy has issued warnings to U.S. military aircraft flying within what it considers the islands’ territorial limit. AP