New Zealand lifted all restrictions on women serving in the military – including infantry units – in January 2000. But spokeswoman Kirsty Taylor-Doig said no woman has ever passed the rigorous selection criteria to join the elite special operations service, which performed with distinction in Afghanistan. Women make up nearly 16 percent of the combined force, with the largest group in the navy, which is about 22 percent female. Last August, a woman medic was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, the first New Zealand female service member to die by hostile fire since World War I.
Associated Press correspondents Ian Deitch in Jerusalem, Matti Huuhtanen in Helsinki, Finland, Jamey Keaten in Paris, Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand, and David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.
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