Women to be integrated into combat units

Breaking, from CNN:

The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, CNN has learned. Multiple officials confirm to CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow and notify Congress of the planned change in policy.

“We will eliminate the policy of ‘no women in units that are tasked with direct combat,’” a senior defense official says.

Well, this should be interesting.

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4 Responses

  1. Great news. If I understand correctly, women have already been in some combat units through some loop holes (they are in the unit doing everything the unit does, but on paper they are something else. It avoids the policy prohibiting it and prevents women from getting pay increases or promotions based upon that experience.). This hopefully also will address the lingering misinformed arguments against the ERA.

  2. I’m glad to see that women are finally going to get credit for already being in combat and that they will gain greater opportunities for promotion.

    The arguments people have used to keep women out of combat have been largely similar to the ones that people used to try to keep blacks and gay people out of the military. It’s nice to see less people are falling for them.

    Laura at Liberal Values Voter

  3. I suppose I have two concerns with the direction the military is going.

    First, are they going to relax the standards for infantry and special forces? Soldiers in combat have a lot of gear to carry (at least a hundred pounds) and they are often put in positions that require great physical exertion. Women at the edge of the bell curve, physically, will be able to keep up with the men, but what about the average woman? If several years from now there are still more men in combat units and special forces, will that be considered disparate impact, and prima facie evidence of gender discrimination?

    Second, are we as a nation ready to see pictures and hear stories of women getting horrifically injured, mutilated, and killed on the battlefield? I know it has happened, but with women staying out of direct combat the occurrences have been rare thus far. I know this sentiment outs me as having something of a chivalric mindset, but I am not sure I like the idea of seeing the best and brightest of our young women torn apart by war.

    The second issue leads into a more general concern I have regarding the military as a whole. Militaries have traditionally been created for one purpose: warfare. They have been designed to fight and kill. The last few decades, however, have seen the US Military transform into more of a social program, a career training program that is more like a university than a warfighting machine. Sure, they still fight, I am not discounting that at all. But look at the recruitment efforts these days – they are all about learning skills for your career or helping after natural disasters. Even recruiters are now called “Armed Forces Career Centers.”

    We seem to be moving toward a future that is geared more toward drone strikes than boots on the ground. Perhaps this is part of the inevitable evolution of our society. As I said, it will be interesting to watch.

    (In any case, I would personally like to see our troops brought home and the military become much smaller.)

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