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The change is recognition

Government opens military combat roles to women
By Andy Hallman | Jan 25, 2013
Barb Duder

The Pentagon has announced that it will lift the ban on women serving in combat roles, according to the Associated Press. United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the announcement in a press conference Thursday.
Women had previously been barred from serving in infantry, armor and special operations units. The new recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units, the Associated Press reported.
Barb Duder, former commander of the American Legion Post 29 in Washington, said that women have been serving on the front lines, and in dangerous places, for many years. The major change is that now they are being recognized for it.
“Women have been serving in combat, especially during ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ and ‘Operation Enduring Freedom,’” she said.
In 2003, a unit of 20 women served alongside frontline combat units in Iraq but were not given combat roles. These women became known as “Team Lioness.”  Duder said that female soldiers played an integral role in Iraq because the male soldiers were not allowed to search Iraqi women for weapons.
“They (the female soldiers) were a calming presence for women and children,” she said. “They were attached to the combat units. In 2009, the U.S. Marine Corps began training female engagement teams. These were also attached to the combat units doing the exact same job, but they received no combat ribbons or awards.”
Duder said that women serving in combat is nothing new. She said between 400 and 1,300 women disguised themselves as men so they could fight during the Civil War. Some of them were even given pensions for their services after the war.
“All they have done by cutting women out of these roles is to stop recognition of women in this roles,” she said.
Duder said women make up 14 percent of active-duty military personnel. The 1994 combat exclusion policy has barred them from serving in 238,000 jobs.
Duder supports the change in policy, but said she expects pushback on the issue.
“Any woman who has served in the military has heard the same thing: ‘You’re not strong enough to drag a 200-pound man off the battlefield,’” she said. “No, not every woman is cut out to be a Green Beret or a Navy Seal.”
Duder added that not every male soldier is cut out to be a Green Beret or Navy Seal, either.
“I knew men who I had an inch and 20 pounds on,” she said. “They couldn’t carry me but I could carry them.”
Duder hopes that the public’s changing acceptance of women in the military will translate into a better work environment for them. She said many enlisted women face harassment and even sexual assault.
In 2011, Duder said there were 3,192 military sexual assaults reported. She said the Department of Defense suspects that only 13 percent of assaults are reported, and suspects that the number was closer to 19,000.
Duder hopes the changes to the Department of Defense’s policy on women in combat will change attitudes within the military.
“This is actually creating an environment of equality,” she said. “We talk about a ‘Band of Brothers,’ but then somebody puts a ‘sister’ into the group, and the female is not seen as equal. They’re second-class citizens. Not only can women advance and achieve in the military, they’re also more likely to be seen as equal.”
Duder has been raising awareness about sexual assaults by promoting a documentary film called “The Invisible War,” which is a film about sexual assaults in the military which came out in 2012. She said the American Legion plans to show the film for free in Washington in February.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 29, 2013 13:30

If all else fails use race and gender to achieve your objective. Many go to the fault position of victimization to achieve their objective. In the courtrooms, on college campuses, and, most especially, in our politics, race and gender is a central theme. Where it does not naturally rise to the surface, there are those who will manufacture and amplify it.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 29, 2013 11:29

What's next? The NFL or NBA and expect accommodations then make all sorts of complaints about unfair treatment and victimization? Who's doing the harassment? What's really the agenda?

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 28, 2013 16:08

Doug Giles
Doug Giles
1. One of the most significant issues with women in combat is the lack of suitable hygiene. In other words, there are times in our military careers where we go through extended periods where we don’t have showers. Women have monthly hygienic concerns that a man does not.
2. When the government mandates acceptance into a work force scenario, standards must be lowered to accommodate the numbers. Most females are not as strong as men. Some are but most are not. If you lower the standards, the mission is compromised. Last year and this year the U.S. Marine Corps tried this by allowing women in their infantry school without lowering standards. Only two signed up, and neither made the grade. None signed up this year.
3. When soldiers deploy they live together, sleep together, eat together, shower together, and bleed together. So will women be given separate quarters and showers? What if a female platoon leader (in charge of 40 men) becomes pregnant? Will she go home? Will she have to stay in combat? What if she is the only female in the platoon … does she not have to bunk with a man?
4. What happens when the first female is captured in combat and brutally murdered? What about when al-Qaeda rapes a woman on video and uploads it to YouTube for all to see? How will the American public handle that? Will men act more carelessly and recklessly to spare their female counterparts than they would another man?
5. There is nothing like being face to face with your enemy and pulling the trigger again, and again, and again. Women have been in combat zones and have performed excellently, but to make them responsible for the killing others has not happened yet. What is the emotional and psychological effect of this on women?
6. Combat is not a boy scout outing. Will the need to be politically correct and mannered in combat undermine the mission goal and morale? During combat there is little time for etiquette. Will that open the door for all sorts of charges of misbehavior and misconduct?

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