Military: Let Women Serve In Combat Units
Thursday, January 24 2013 –
At a Pentagon ceremony remembering civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, outgoing Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said every member of the US military should have the opportunity to pursue “every avenue of military service for which they are prepared and qualified”.
He also acknowledged a complaint frequently voiced by women denied combat roles – that military careers are hindered by a lack of combat experience.
“Our military is more capable, and our force is more powerful, when we use all of the great diverse strengths of the American people,” Mr Panetta said.
Source: BBC News
Wednesday, January 23 2013 –
Defense secretary Leon Panetta is going to formally announce the opening of all currently restricted jobs to women including the infantry and the special forces tomorrow. According to a Pentagon source the individual branches of the military will have until 2016 to fully develop plans to integrate women into all areas of the currently restricted jobs with the general assessment being it will take longer for the infantry and SF roles to adapt. The new rule will overturn a 1994 rule that banned women from front line combat jobs and it will expand on a move Panetta made last year that opened almost 15,000 off limits jobs to women. The new openings will open up over 200,000 jobs to women including the Navy SEAL teams, Delta Force, Army Rangers and regular infantry units. If you haven’t seen the movie G.I. Jane it might be time. The announcement is going to be the last major policy shift for Panetta who is expected to depart his post at the Pentagon in mid-February.
Women currently account for %14 of the 1.4 million strong active duty force.
Source: USA Today
The Defense Department has decided to allow women into jobs within the military that would put women closer to the front line however they will still be banned from infantry fighting units, armor and special forces; for now.
But the proposed regulations, expected to take effect this summer, would allow women to serve in non-infantry battalion jobs, such as radio operators, intelligence analysts, medics, radar operators and tank mechanics. They could be placed together with combat forces, such as supply convoys in areas of fighting. Source: LA Times
Since the creation of the United States military women have been banned from any role that involves direct combat but that seems to be changing. Since the military has been waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq women have been fighting alongside men and dying beside them. Women still are banned from infantry units and specialized units but with combat today it’s impossible to keep women out of the line of fire. The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, created by Congress, is expected to submit its proposal to the President in the spring along with the Army who is conducting a similar study on allowing women to serve in combat. Approval would mean that you would start seeing women in infantry units and the special forces.
The report which was put together by retired and current military officers said that keeping women out of the roughly 10% of combat roles limits advancement and promotion. It’s creating an unfair balance within the military and the ranks are not as diverse as the nation they serve. With women making up roughly 14% of the military and 225,000 seeing combat it does not come as a surprise.
However many are against the thought of women in a dedicated fighting unit. They question if women have the physical strength and stamina that a combat MOS requires. Most see a woman as unfit to carry a wounded man wearing full combat gear and militaries who have allowed women in combat have noticed a more severe mental affect upon men when a woman is killed. They noticed that men would linger over the dead female longer than they would a male and thus putting them at greater risk. Only 110 women were killed in Iraq compared to the over 4,000 men and many feel that the nation would lose support for a war much faster if thousands of daughters are coming home in bags.
Supporters of a repeal reject those criticisms and instead say that women have proved themselves in today’s combat and are willing to fight. The current policy “represents a huge glass ceiling for servicewomen,” Anu Bhagwati, former Marine Captain and executive director of the rights group Service Women’s Action Network, said. “It is archaic, it does not reflect the many sacrifices and contributions that women make in the military, and it ignores the reality of current warfighting doctrine.”
The new report challenges predictions that a change would have ill effects on the units. “To date, there has been little evidence that the integration of women into previously closed units or occupations has had a negative impact on important mission-related performance factors, like unit cohesion,” the draft says. This is true although we have never put women into the infantry or special forces where killing and hand to hand combat is more prevalent and the man next to you relies on you to kick ass.
Top defense leaders have said they see the change coming someday. In answer to a question, Defense Secretary Robert Gates in September, for instance, told Reserve Officer Training Corps students at Duke University that he expects women to serve in special operations units, the kind of commando teams known for stealth missions. Gates said he expects women eventually will be allowed into special operations forces in a careful, deliberate manner. The new report is suggesting a phased introduction of women. They would first start advancement and schools in their current specialties and then they would likely be phased into a combat unit. This will be the second major policy change to the military since President Obama took office and I truly think it is for the better. It may have an adverse affect on those who do not want to see women in the same capacity as they do fighting men and it may affect the public’s view of a potential war. Then again having women serve in combat and dying right alongside men may make politicians think twice before sending sons and now daughters into harms way. The times are a changing.