I offer for discussion an interesting piece from a female Marine officer in the WaPo:
By Jane Blair, Published: May 27
During my service in Iraq as a Marine officer, I, like many other military women, found myself fighting on the front lines of America’s wars — yet was unacknowledged for doing so. Women are dying in combat, but Congress still officially bans us from serving in combat units that engage the enemy with deliberate, offensive action.
This antiquated policy may be seeing its final days. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) has prepared an amendment to the defense budget bill that would end the the ban. On Memorial Day weekend, let’s also end some revered stereotypes purporting to explain why women couldn’t possibly succeed in combat.
1. Women are too emotionally fragile for combat.
2. Women are too physically weak for the battlefield.
3. The presence of women causes sexual tension in training and battle.
4. Male troops will become distracted from their missions in order to protect female comrades.
5. Women can’t lead men in combat effectively.
Now I am by no means an ally of feminism, but I have always felt that the ban on women in frontline or combat units was mostly stupid, as long as the individual could pass requisite training an qualifications. After 20 years in the military, I can certainly say that there are plenty of women in the military who would be more than qualified to serve in frontline units.
Are there some circumstances that would need exception? Perhaps. But to pretend that women aren't in combat already is farcical. As Major Blair points out, female service members have died in combat over the last 10 years, not one of them in what is classified as a frontline or combat unit. However in the two wars that we are currently engaged, there is no frontline. There is no FEBA, or easily discerned line separating battling armies. We are amongst each other. So the old rules that keep female troops in "support units" stations "in the rear" don't make a whit of difference. But even if we do revert to a world where armies battle across vast fronts, and support units are "in the rear", the idea that women cannot serve of the front is as outdated as the field radio.
If a female can pass whichever set of qualification is called for, I say she should be allowed to serve in the unit she is qualified for.