“No man with gumption wants a woman to fight his nation’s battles.” – U.S. General William Westmoreland, 1979

Note: This role will be opened to women entering the Army starting January, 2016. These are words that most Australian special-forces operators never wanted to read, nor thought they would ever have to. The Australian Government’s decision to lift gender restrictions within the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) combat roles now means that women are eligible to pursue employment opportunities within Australia’s Special Operations Command (SOCOMD).

Earlier suggestions indicated that special forces were going to be exempt from the proposed changes. However, this has proven to be inaccurate, with the 2nd Commando Regiment and Special Air Service Regiment now accepting women candidates to try out for a spot in both units.

The removal of gender restrictions gained momentum in 2011 after Defence personnel were embroiled in a number of high-profile scandals. The scandals and allegations involved the sexual humiliation and denigration of both male and female ADF employees across all three services. A culture of misogyny has said to be a pervading factor throughout the entire ADF and has been assessed as creating an environment that is widely difficult for women to progress in their military careers. These cases have been regarded by some as systematic cultural problems throughout Defence, which have also extended beyond women to include individuals of different ethnic and social backgrounds.

The opening of combat roles to women has seen Australia follow a number of other nations in its pursuit of equitable military career opportunities for both males and females. Even though it is still in its implementation phase, the mere discussion of mixed gender teams has been an extremely compelling, precarious, and, at times, downright dangerous topic to mention around teammates.