WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is lifting the military’s official ban on women in combat, which will open up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to them, senior defense officials said Wednesday.
he groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles, even though in reality women have frequently found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 20,000 have served. As of last year, more than 800 women had been wounded in the two wars and more than 130 had died.
Defense officials offered few details about Mr. Panetta’s decision but described it as the beginning of a process to allow the branches of the military to put the change into effect. Defense officials said Mr. Panetta had made the decision on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Women have long chafed under the combat restrictions and have increasingly pressured the Pentagon to catch up with the reality on the battlefield. The move comes as Mr. Panetta is about to step down from his post and would leave him with a major legacy after only 18 months in the job.
The Challenges of Women in Combat Roles
We’ve done several pieces on woman in combat roles, the problem isn’t about, can women do the job, it lies in how to best go about the transition. The military has a poor track record for implementing changes when it comes to women. Usually standards are lowered to plus up numbers, and morale goes to hell because of it. This is true on both sides, women also want to earn it and be respected for it, when they’re greased through it endangers lives and creates unit tension. I saw this first hand when the Navy started integrating females into pilot roles. It was clear that women were getting third and fourth tries in flight school when men would wash out for less.
Israeli females are required to serve in the IDF, and many in combat roles.
For me it’s not about whether women can do the job, plenty can, it’s how the DOD goes about it. Another big issue that needs to be addressed is male/female integration. It’s against human nature to put men and women in close quarters with the stress of war and expect them not to have sex. If anyone has served overseas you know what I’m talking about, and what a Kandahar 10 is.
A solution is all female units, several countries, including South Korea, have successfully adopted these programs.
South Korean Female SOF. Watch your eyes gents…
For now we’ll have to wait and see what comes down the DOD pipe, and if standards will be adjusted off the books.
Female Navy SEALs? Maybe…