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Women in combat should be 'seriously considered'

The Army should "seriously consider" lifting its ban on women serving in combat roles in line with other countries, the chief of the general staff has said.

Women are currently are allowed to serve on the front line with the artillery and as medics, engineers, intelligence officers and fighters pilots but not in close combat roles.

A paramedic attached to the British Army's Highlanders takes aim. Credit: REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

General Sir Peter Wall told The Sunday Times the British Army is in a minority of other armies because of the rule and offering all roles to women would make it "look more normal to society".

An MoD spokesman said: "A 2010 review into women serving in combat roles concluded there should be no change to the existing policy and another review will take place before 2018."

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MoD hits back at top general's comments on Army cuts

The Ministry of Defence has hit back after one of Britain's most senior generals warned Government cuts will damage the Army in the long term.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said:

The UK maintains some of the very finest and best equipped armed forces, underpinned by the world's fourth largest defence budget.

With a restructured, more flexible and agile Army and with £160 billion planned on new equipment over the next decade we will ensure our armed forces retain their formidable range.

Hammond dismisses Army cuts criticism as 'nonsense'

The Defence Secretary has dismissed much of the criticism levelled against the Government on Army cuts as "nonsense".

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Philip Hammond said: "We still have the fourth largest defence budget in the world.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on The Andrew Marr Show.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond on The Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

"I was in the Pentagon just this week past, I heard my US counterpart talk about Britain as a credible, capable and reliable ally and that's what we intend to remain.

"Of course we've had to make savings, of course we've had to make some very tough decisions, ... but we're looking to the future not the past."

Mr Hammond's comments followed General Sir Richard Shirreff's comments that the restructuring of the Army is "one hell of a risk" that will weaken the armed forces around the world.

Top general warns Army cuts are 'one hell of a risk'

Restructuring the Army is "one hell of a risk" that will weaken the armed forces, one of Britain's most senior generals has warned.

The Government is cutting the regular Army from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, while the newly-renamed Army Reserve - formerly the Territorial Army - is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

General Officer Commanding, Major General Richard Shirreff pictured during a Remembrance Day Service in 2006. Credit: PA

In an interview with the Sunday Times (£), General Sir Richard Shirreff said: "The sort of defence cuts we have seen... have really hollowed out the British armed forces and I think that people need to sit up and recognise that."

“I wouldn’t want to let anybody think that I think that Army 2020 is good news, it’s not.”

Read: Hammond dismisses Army cuts criticism as 'nonsense'

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Fijian ex-soldier wins battle to stay in Britain

A former Fijian soldier who fought for the British Army has won his battle to stay in the UK after being threatened with deportation.

Filimone Lacanivalu - who served with the Army for nine years - missed the deadline for an residency request form and was taken to a detention centre for five weeks.

The soldier issued a personal appeal to Prime Minister David Cameron and saw his case taken up by MPs and the press.

Survey finds First World War knowledge lacking

The move to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War may prove useful as a reminder to a large number of Britons who remain decidely sketchy about the conflict.

A survey suggests many people's knowledge of the war blurs easily with World War Two.

More responders apparently thought Germany invaded Poland - as was the case in 1939 - than Belgium in August 1914.

Nine percent of people thought Winston Churchill was prime minister at the start of the conflict - the same number than correctly knew it was Herbert Asquith.

Embarrassingly, 1% of the 1,955 adults quizzed by YouGov for thinktank British Future thought Margaret Thatcher was PM in 1918 and 3% believed Britain and Germany fought the war on the same side.

Competition to design paving stones for VC heroes

Each paving stone will also have a QR reader, which people can scan using a smartphone to reveal details about the recipient. Credit: Edmond Terakopian/PA Wire

A national competition will be held to design the centenary paving stones which will be placed in areas of the UK where Victoria Cross recipients of the First World War were born.

There will be 28 stones unveiled next year to commemorate medals awarded in 1914, and other stones will be unveiled each year up until 2018.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, announcing the competition, said: "Laying paving stones to mark these Victoria Cross heroes will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country."

He added the stones would "help residents understand how their area played its part in the Great War, and ensure memories of that sacrifice for British freedom and liberty are kept alive for generations to come."

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