EL PASO – A military advisory panel recently recommended that the Pentagon do away with a policy that bans women from serving in combat, dismantling the last major area of discrimination in the armed forces.
In the past, the U. S. armed forces have had to overcome the barriers of racial prejudice and rules against gays serving openly in the military. The call by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC) to let women serve in the front lines of combat could set in motion another wave of changes in military culture. This newest proposal was sent by the MLDC to Congress and to President Barak Obama.
“It’s not that women aren’t ready – we are ready. It’s time to lift this ban and really live up to equality,” said First Lieutenant Teresa Martin and HHC Executive Officer at Fort Bliss, where the push to place women in combat has traditionally been supported. “No doubt that there’ll be changes but females are treated no differently than males when it comes to basic training. It’s not gender based at all and we all have our own work ethic.”
However, some opponents in the Senate Armed Services Committee maintain that women just don’t meet the physical demands. They say women in the infantry and other combat units could actually do more harm than good in that they might slow down military tactics. This same argument was made against gays serving openly before Congress did away with the “don’t ask don’t tell.”
“If they were to lift the ban on women in combat there could potentially be some problems. If some of the soldiers, more likely males than females, view there is preferential treatment they’ll think they’re the weakest link,” said Sergeant First Class Michael Bucceri. “I feel that it will take the mindset of modern military a long time before they would be able to integrate them at the same equality as they would treat all soldiers.”
Another argument by the Senate Armed Services Committee is that people just don’t want to see women come home in body bags. They could do anything in the military, just not fight. The reality though is that women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have already been exposed to great danger. Hundreds of women have died defending and honoring this country as medics and air traffic controllers alone.
This doesn’t go to say that women haven’t made strides in the armed forces. Just recently the Navy changed its rules over the last year to allow women on submarines for the first time. Women are also a very important asset behind front lines, especially in the medical field.
Supporters of the ban say technically women have participated in combat for years. There has also been no evidence to suggest that women have been a strain when it comes to combat, if anything combat units accomplish more. Where women lack in physical durability they make up for it in skills like analyzing and conceptualizing.
“Basically what it comes down to is that why would I learn all the training, all the battle skills to stay alive on the battlefield and go through the process of learning all these training for me not to be able to use it on the battlefield. I’m very for it,” says Sergeant Major Zoernia Davis. “We’re just as tough and just as smart. We’re also very focused. People shouldn’t believe the misconceptions about women, those are just excuses.”
Now that the topic has gotten the attention of Congress they say they do see the change coming. They don’t know exactly when but eventually they will be out there. For now, we can expect women to be let into special operations forces, but of course it will be monitored very carefully.