These photos show women fighters from around the world in frontline combat jobs

A female of the armored Bundeswehr participates in an exercise in September 2018 near Munster, Germany.

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A female of the armored Bundeswehr participates in an exercise in September 2018 near Munster, Germany.
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Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

  • Almost three years have passed since the US military announced it would open combat roles to women.
  • In September, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the jury is still out when it comes to women’s performance in these newly integrated units.
  • Despite women’s roles in combat support units that often placed them in the line of fire, the US is one of the last western nations to open positions in infantry, artillery, and special operations to women.

In 2015, the US military joined the majority of the western world when Defense Department officials announced women would finally be able to serve in combat-oriented roles.

Although women were no strangers to combat – supportive roles in logistics and combat medicine, aviation and in warships, among others, often brought them under enemy fire – they are now able to serve in roles previously reserved for men, including infantry, artillery, and special operations.

Before US officials decided to make the shift, they looked to foreign militaries, many of which have allowed women in these positions for years or even decades. Here’s a look at some of them.


German women have been serving in combat roles since 2001.


Conscription in the Israeli Defense Force extends to women, who must serve at least two years.

Israel has allowed women in combat roles since 1995.

Despite surveys showing “superior skills,” they still face prejudicial treatment.


Female Philippine Marines undergo the same training as their male counterparts.

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Philippine Marines jump off a boat during drills in Ternate south of Manila in 2013.
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Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

The Philippino military opened combat roles to women in 2006.


Romanian women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since at least 2008.


Women have packed a strong punch in the fight against ISIS.

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A member of the YPJ, the female protection unit of the Syrian Defense Forces, stands guard in an armored truck in Syria.
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Still taken from Reuters video

Kurdish women have been especially forceful against ISIS militants throughout the middle east.


Integration has been crucial in Afghanistan, where female soldiers can specialize in searching and questioning women.

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Female Tactical Platoon member maintains perimeter security during an exercise near Kabul.
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Martha Schaeffer/NATO Special Operations Component Command