Although the army primarily recruits within the United Kingdom, it accepts applications from Commonwealth citizens and (occasionally) those from friendly nations who meet certain criteria. In 2016, it was decided to open all roles to women in 2018; women had not been permitted to join the Combat Arms. The British Army is an equal-opportunity employer (with some exceptions due to its medical standards), and does not discriminate based on race, religion or sexual orientation. The minimum age is 16 (after the end of GCSEs), although soldiers under 18 may not serve in operations. The maximum recruitment age was raised in January 2007 from 26 to 33 years, and the maximum age for Army Reserve soldiers is higher. A soldier would traditionally enlist for a term of 22 years, although recently there has been a shift towards 12-year terms with a 22-year option. A soldier is not normally permitted to leave until they have served for at least four years, and must give 12 months' notice. Oath of allegianceEdit All soldiers must take an oath of allegiance upon joining the Army, a process known as attestation. Those who wish to swear by God use the following words:
I, [soldier's name], swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, her heirs and successors in person, crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, her heirs and successors and of the generals and officers set over me. Others replace the words "swear by Almighty God" with "solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm".