UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed that all roles in the military are now open to women.
The announcement was marked with the joining of some of the first women into the British Army’s Royal Armoured Corps.
With the new regulation, women already serving in the UK Army can be transferred into different infantry roles, while those not currently in service will be able to apply for infantry roles in December.
New recruits are due to start their basic training in April.
Williamson said: “Women have led the way with exemplary service in the armed forces for over 100 years, working in a variety of specialist and vital roles.
“So I am delighted that from today, for the first time in its history, our armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender.
“Opening all combat roles to women will not only make the armed forces a more modern employer but will ensure we recruit the right person for the right role.”
Women will now be able to apply to join the Royal Marines, with selection scheduled to begin before the end of this year, confirmed Williamson.
Training courses are expected to commence at Royal Marines Commando training centre in Lympstone early next year.
The Royal Armoured Corps was the first ground close combat branch to allow female soldiers and officers to join the service in November 2016, which was followed by the Royal Air Force Regiment in September last year.