Friday, February 1, 2013

Combat rule matches reality


    Allowing women in the armed forces to serve in ground combat units has caused little uproar except for the predictable protestations of a few like Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma who sees, but cannot articulate, the “dangers” inherent in this policy change.
    Executive Order 9981 forbidding discrimination against military personnel because of race, color, religion or national origin caused far more uproar when President Truman signed it in 1948. Warnings that standards of readiness would drop and that unit cohesion—the ability of soldiers to live and fight together—would suffer proved baseless. Then as now, politics not readiness is the issue.
    The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military are publicly acknowledging what has already been demonstrated: Women are capable of serving in combat, no matter what the official rules and roles assigned to them. Women currently account for 14.6 percent of the active-duty military. In reality, many already serve in combat situations, including on the ground. A total of 137 women have been killed to date in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Overturning the policy barring women from combat roles allows women to advance in their military careers on the same basis as men. It made no sense to deny women their rightful pay and promotion opportunities. Arguments about whether they have the necessary strength and stamina for combat proved baseless when women were allowed to fly combat aircraft and are sure to be the same now.
    Women have always served in war, and it’s time they got equal appreciation and fair treatment from a grateful nation.




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