Over the last two decades, the push for greater integration of women into combat-related jobs in the military has gained tremendous ground. The 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule replaced the previous “risk rule” which “excluded women from units that had a high probability of engaging in ground combat” (Barry 20). Although more progressive than its predecessor, the 1994 policy still “excluded [women] from units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground” (Barry 20). This policy was based on the assumption that battlefields were going to remain linear with distinct frontlines and rear-echelons.

Today’s recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven that battlefields no longer have this distinction of combatant front lines and non-combatant rear-echelons; they are non-linear and unpredictable. Due to this new aspect of warfare, 152 U.S. servicewomen were killed from 9/11 to January 2013. During this time, “women made up almost 15% of U.S. military personnel” (Barry 20), and were finding themselves in direct combat even though they remained in non-combat jobs.

In the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress “required the defense and service secretaries to review policies ‘to determine whether changes needed to ensure that female members have an equitable opportunity to compete and excel in the armed forces” (Army Times). But this was not enough for civilian groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which took the case of four female service members who felt they were discriminated against by the current policies of the military. The four service members’ argument resided in the fact that “[the] majority of senior leadership positions in the U.S. military were held by former infantry and armour officers, excluding women from these roles created an unnecessary glass ceiling for female officers” and “violated their constitutional rights” (Barry 21).

As it stands now for the Army, an announcement from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opened 14,000 jobs that were previously closed off to women. However, 30% of Army jobs will still be restricted to only men, but must now develop “gender neutral” standards for integrating women in the future (Army Times). The Department of Defense (DOD) still has time to recommend exceptions, such as Special Forces and Infantry, but they “must be narrowly tailored and based on a rigorous analysis of factual data regarding knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the position” (Barry 21). These recommendations also will require the approval of the current Secretary of Defense.

Despite all the risks, women are still pushing for complete equal rights and access to every job in the military, including Special Forces and the Infantry. As stated before, most field-grade officers begin their careers in these combat jobs that are banned for women. Also, there are many Army schools that are only open to Special Forces or the Infantry that, once completed, are worth points for promotions.

Because women cannot participate in these schools, they are not eligible for these points which lead to quicker promotions and more pay. Women also argue that, since they have already shown they can perform in direct combat, they want the opportunity to serve their county in combat just as any male has the same right. But serving in “direct combat” differs from the life of soldier in a combat job.

Up to now, many tests have already been done regarding the physical stresses of the combat soldier’s life as opposed to the time spent in actual direct combat. The case studies which, will be elaborated on later in this paper, show that the female body cannot sustain the physical stresses over time due to physiological differences as well as their male counterparts. Studies have already been published proving that the physical demands of these combat jobs are greater than non-combat jobs. Soldiers in these roles already have higher injury rates then their non combat counterparts and the rate will more than double with the integration of females. This injury rate turns an emotional argument into an economic one, and specifically how it economically affects you, the taxpayer.

Before explaining how the integration of women into combat roles is not an economically sound decision, we need to define the term “combat.” Now, before you go and bring up a dictionary definition, I do not care what it says in some book. Eleven long years I have served in the infantry and Special Forces, and I can tell you that you will not find it written, typed, printed, or posted anywhere; to comprehend it, you need to have lived it.