Women in combat

January 23rd, 2013

According to news reports out of Washington, D.C. (see here and here, among others) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce Thursday the Pentagon’s lifting of its ban on women serving in combat roles in some of the most dangerous units in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Per NBC News:

The Pentagon chief will announce on Thursday that he is eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion — the Department of Defense policy that excluded women from assignment to units below the brigade level if the unit would be engaged in direct combat.

This will allow women to be assigned to select positions in ground combat units at the battalion level.

Hawaii’s U.S. House delegation includes freshman Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard and fellow freshman U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, are the first female combat veterans elected to Congress.

In 2004, Gabbard deployed to Iraq with the 29th Brigade Combat Team and eventually served two tours of combat duty in the Middle East. She issued a statement in support of the Pentagon’s move, which read in part:

“Female service members have contributed on the battlefield as far back as the Civil War, when some disguised themselves as men just to have the opportunity to serve their nation. This decision by the Department of Defense is an overdue, yet welcome change, which I strongly support. I look forward to hearing the details of how this will be executed, and will support full and equal access for our highly capable female service members to serve our country in all roles, which will only stand to strengthen our Armed Forces, and our national defense.”

Hawaii U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, also supported the move.

In a statement, Hanabusa said:

“Throughout our history, women have played an integral role in our military. I applaud the Department of Defense for eliminating this outdated policy and recognizing the important, evolving role of women in the Armed Forces. I believe that all qualified Americans, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should be given the same opportunity to serve their country.”

Update (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.):

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, also supported the announcement. Her statement on the matter:

“Today’s news is a great step toward equality. These restrictions that block women from serving in active combat roles make no sense in today’s modern military. All Americans deserve the opportunity to defend our nation regardless of gender, and I know that the women who currently serve in the military think they should be treated the same as any other servicemember. Women serving in combat roles will strengthen our national security, and as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I will work closely with military and administration officials to see this change through.”

6 Responses to “Women in combat”

  1. marilynblee:

    I am proud to say that a resolution in favor of this action was part of the yearly package of the Women’s legislative Caucus of the State of Hawaii during the past biennium. In fact, the entire package was dedicated to Women Veterans. This announcement is extremely important and log overdue. M

  2. EspeciallyIncognito:

    Women can serve as Secret Service Agents to our President.
    Very much the same as fighting on the front line.
    If someone shoots, someone can die.

  3. Chicken Grease:

    Well . . . it works for Israel, doesn’t it? Men and women in pur armed services, if they fulfill the requirements, let ‘em fight for liberty and freedom.

    Good we didn’t have to wait until space bugs (Verhoven version) start to attack ‘fore allowing women into the theatre of.

    # # #

  4. david smith:

    I think war is hell. Perhaps more politically oriented women should die in this new era of guerrilla wars to strengthen America’s resolve in the years to come. I would challenge the women politicians in Congress to take back the power of war which now resides in the executive branch. We don’t need Congress to rubber stamp war and to tell the American public “We don’t support this war but we support or troops!”. This is lame. I think more women have to die in war for Congress to come to grips that War is not a stepping stone to acheivement or Meritorious Service. Politicians interested in civil rights have no place in war, nor interfering in the chain of command. The point is war is changing and the military need our support to modify their mission to be effective. Women in combat, who will likely be maimed and die, may help our politicians and military understand how important change is.

  5. masteruke:

    Question, technically in the US armed services if you don’t have a combat mos you could not say you were a combat soldier. As a former grunt 1967-68 in Viet Nam I took exception to Talsi Gabbard saying she was a combat vet when she was running for office. Did she earn a CIB or combat medics badge, was she in artillery? There is a law that says you cannot false claim any ribbons not earned by fine or jail time.

  6. GoodOlBoy:

    How will, if at all, this effect selective service? Will women also now be required to sign on as men do for selective service once 18 years of age? If that is the case, there will be even greater social repercussions to many families. Many parents would be outraged at the thought of their daughters’ legal obligation to sign for a possible draft.

    Now on the voluntary side, if a female can meet the exact physical requirements to be a front-line combat warrior as a male, that’s fair. Who wouldn’t prefer a strong female warrior in battle covering for them instead of a weak male.

    As it stands on the operational side: equal opportunity, check; equal pay, check; equal physical training standards… a huge double standard that favors females who seek military service or careers. If the physical training standards were made equal, many females currently in would be out in a few months.

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