Recently, Britain’s military had suffered its first female casualty in Afghanistan. 26 year old Sarah Bryant was working on a secret counter-terrorism mission in the Helmand province. The vehicle Bryant was in had hit a roadside bomb. Bryant along with three members of the British Special Air Service (SAS) were killed when they ran over the roadside bomb.
Though Bryant is the first female casualty in Afghanistan, there has been a new debate that questions the use of women on the frontlines in war. So far, Britain’s military have been using more women in battle as of recent. About twenty-percent of British troops serving in Afghanistan are female.
Bryant before death was married to another intelligence officer. She was placed on the mission because she spoke the local Pashtu language. Also, Bryant has also served in Iraq. Now, the role of women soldiers in Britain’s military has been illuminated. In combat, there has been a fine line between fighting on the frontline and supporting from behind the lines.
However, combat and warfare have changed over the years. Now, that line has been increasingly blurred by the decades. Eventually, there will be no line distinguishing the difference between frontline and support troops.
At this point, you can be placed on operations regardless of your gender. The rules of the British military do not allow for female troops to fight in the frontlines where they will be expected to engage with, fight against, and kill the enemy. But, anything goes now.
Even though one would not be on a combat mission, any sort of mission will put one in the frontline. If you are out to get supplies, you are in the frontline. If you leave the base camp, you are in the frontline. Any and every operation that takes place outside the encampment is considered to be the frontline.
So far, this has sparked debate from both sides of the spectrum.
Tory Shadow Defense Minister Gerald Howarth wants the government to give a clear definition on the role of women taking place in frontline combat.
The British military says that Bryant was chosen because she had the skills needed. Major Bruce Spencer had said that the battlefield constantly morphs. In short, there is nothing symmetrical about combat. In Spencer’s words, anything can happen at any location.
So far, Bryant’s death has been sparking much debate.