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Integrating women into combat roles: comparing the UK Armed Forces and Israeli Defense Forces to understand where lessons can be learnt
  1. Anne Fieldhouse1 and
  2. T J O'Leary2
  1. 1 Personnel Policy, British Army, Andover, Hampshire, UK
  2. 2 Army Health and Performance Research, British Army, Andover, Hampshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr T J O'Leary, Army Health and Performance Research, British Army, Andover SP11 8HJ, UK; thomas.oleary100{at}


In October 2018, women became eligible to serve in all roles in the UK Armed Forces. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have employed women in limited ground close combat (GCC) roles since 1995. Integration of women into some IDF combat units has improved our understanding of injury risk for servicewomen. While the research findings from physiological studies on women in IDF GCC roles helped inform the integration of women into UK GCC roles, the applicability of the data is limited by the differences between Israeli and UK approaches to recruitment, training and operational deployability of servicewomen. Women in IDF combat roles do, therefore, not provide a good model on the health and performance implications for women in UK Armed Forces combat roles. Further original research to better understand and develop mitigations against any health risks facing UK servicewomen in GCC roles is warranted.

  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • occupational & industrial medicine
  • physiology

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  • Contributors AF and TJO both contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.