Women in the U.S. military could one day become members of the elite special operations forces and take on other combat roles previously reserved only for men.
The Associated Press reported last week that American defense officials signed an order overturning a nearly two-decade-old rule that prohibited women from being assigned thousands of jobs in the areas of front-line artillery, infantry, special operations and more.
Military officials will now have until mid-May to develop plans for allowing women to seek the once-prohibited combat positions, but three years to make cases for certain positions remaining closed to women.
Some are skeptical of the change in policy. In a column published on CNN, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin says allowing women to serve in combat roles “crosses a line worthy of greater deliberation and public debate” and is effectively “testing a hypothesis that may impair the military effectiveness of our ground forces.”
“The American public … should not sit back and leave the brave members of our armed forces susceptible to the whims of ideology,” Boykin writes. “Men and women can serve together in the armed forces productively, but that service needs to be prudently structured in a manner that reflects the differences between the sexes and the power of their attractions.”
George Will on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos questioned whether military leaders would change physical fitness requirements so the presence of women on the battlefield won’t have a negative impact.
“You’re 6’4″, 240-pound Marine, and you’re injured, and you need a Marine next to you to carry you back to safety, and the Marine next to you is a 5’4″ woman who weighs 115 pounds. It’s relevant,” Will said.
David Wood, senior military correspondent for The Huffington Post, says he experienced firsthand one of the jobs currently closed to women—gun loader on an M1A2 Abrams tank. Despite the physicality of that job, he thinks it’s one a female soldier could be capable of doing.
“Tank loader and Marine rifleman are two of those jobs currently closed to women,” Wood writes. “Judging by my experience, at least, I see no reason why women couldn't do either.
“But it ain't easy.”
-- Should women in the U.S. military be allowed in combat roles?
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Contributed by Jon Gargis, Editor of the Marietta Patch