A woman from Brentford who joined the Army aged just 16 is backing its campaign to attract more females.
Lance Bombardier Chelsey Hampson-Carroll, now 23, has worked across the globe, in countries including Greenland and Kenya, during her brief career in the forces.
She is one of around 8,000 women in the Army, making up just nine per cent of the male-dominated ranks, but a recruitment drive has been launched to address the gender imbalance.
"My travels and especially my service in Afghanistan in 2009-10 have been a massive eye-opener for me. I was only 18 when I went to Afghanistan so it gave me a different view on life," she said.
"I would recommend a career in the Army. Everything you do affects your future so do as much as you can."
The former Brentford School for Girls student added that she enjoyed playing with Action Men as a child and knew from a young age she wanted to join the Army.
According to research for the Army, a quarter of women feel they are lacking challenges and excitement in their careers. A third of the 1,300 women questioned said they would be interested in part-time work outside their day job.
There are 3,000 female members of the paid, part-time Army Reserve (formerly known as the Territorial Army), comprising 15 per cent of the total force.
Women are not currently allowed to serve in front line combat roles but the Ministry of Defence is reviewing the restriction to see if it should be lifted.
Major General Ronald Munro, the Army's deputy commander of land forces (Reserves), said: "What we want is talent. We can offer a highly flexible career to women who are driven and keen to learn new skills and take on fresh challenges.
"The Army Reserve is a particularly flexible career path which you can add on to your existing job or do in your spare time."
* For more information about joining the Army, visit army.mod.uk/womeninthearmy or call 0845 600 8080.