Army opens front-line combat roles to women

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 20, 2014 - 20:09
  • Updated : Feb 21, 2014 - 00:35
Female soldiers will be able to apply to all combat roles in the Army starting this year, as part of the military’s efforts to integrate more women into closed units, the defense ministry said Thursday.

The Army will allow all female soldiers and noncommissioned officers to apply for artillery and armored units and air defense forces in a bid to lower the gender barrier.

The Army Military Academy will also open the door for 20 female cadets next year for the first time since its establishment in 1968.

In South Korea, all-able bodied men must serve the compulsory military service for at least two years, while women volunteer as officers and noncommissioned officers after graduating from military academies and completing college training programs.

“The ministry will improve the personnel recruitment system for female soldiers to give them more opportunities and expand the child care system,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing.

The ministry plans to increase the number of female officers and noncommissioned officers to 7 percent and 5 percent of the total forces, respectively, by 2015.

In response to a growing number of women in uniform, the Marine Corps is also considering recruiting women in closed units such as artillery and armored forces, taking into consideration the working conditions and number of officers, officials said.

For the Air Force, women can apply for all units except the Special Air Force Rescue Team.

The Navy is set to allow female soldiers except in four special forces units, including the Underwater Demolition Team, Underwater Demolition Unit, Ship Salvage Unit and Communications Intelligence Team.

Still, South Korean female sailors cannot serve aboard submarines due to cramped spaces not allowing for additional facilities for women and exceptionally long missions.

The U.S. Navy has removed one of the last barriers for female sailors since 2011, allowing women to serve aboard nuclear-powered submarines with a comparatively larger space. (Yonhap)