Women Allowed in Combat
U.S. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, made a historic announcement earlier this week that women will be allowed to serve in direct combat roles in wars — that means fight directly against the enemy.
Many people hearing the news were surprised that this wasn’t already the case.
Women make up 15% of the military according to the Defense Department — over 200,000 out of 1.4 million current service members are women.
Officially, women’s roles have more generally been defined as support — such as medics and helicopter pilots.
But in reality women have already been serving in combat roles. Hundreds of female soldiers have received Combat Action Badges. Hundreds more have been injured and killed. Unfortunately, they have not been adequately recognized for their sacrifices.
The way wars have been fought has changed, especially the wars most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Attacks have become a lot less predictable. “Everybody was vulnerable to the influence of the enemy,” Brig. General Barrye Price, director of human resources policy at the Army G-1, told Army Times .
Many are saying that this new policy is just catching up with reality.
Not being able to officially fight in combat roles has meant that many women have not been able to move up in the ranks and be promoted in the same way male service members have been. This is one of the reasons women felt the rules were unfair.
But not everyone believes that women can do such a physically demanding job as well as men. Critics say that women just don’t have the same physical abilities as men and that there’s a reason men have traditionally held combat jobs.
Secretary Panetta said in his announcement , “Our purpose is to ensure that the mission is carried out by the best qualified and the most capable servicemembers, regardless of gender and regardless of creed and beliefs. If members of our military can meet the qualifications for a job – and let me be clear, I’m not talking about reducing the qualifications for the job … then they should have the right to serve.”
Secretary Panetta added that he has three grandsons and three granddaughters and that he wants “each of them to have the same chance to succeed at whatever they want to do. In life, as we all know, there are no guarantees of success. Not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier. But everyone is entitled to a chance.”