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Strategika: 03 Should women serve in front line combat units?

Should women serve in front line combat units?

Poster: US Womens Army Corps
US 2814, Hoover Institution Archives Poster Collection

BACKGROUND ESSAY: Women Soldiers Confront not just the Enemy, but a Range of Political Issues
by Kori Schake

In the past twelve years, 800 American women have been wounded and 136 killed in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly three hundred thousand have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet women remain barred from service in infantry, artillery, armor, combat engineers, and special operations units.

Mythology. There are three prevalent myths about the United States military’s combat exclusion policy. The first myth is that women are prevented from serving in combat. Women are serving in combat; they are prevented from being assigned to units whose primary mission is ground combat. The second myth is that they are excluded by law. There is no legal exclusion of women from assignment to combat units; they are excluded as a matter of Department of Defense policy, and that policy varies by Service. The third myth is that manpower needs constitute a strong argument for opening combat units to women. In nearly every case of countries that permit it, including Israel, women constitute about 2% of combat forces.(read full article)


For Women in the Infantry, Political Correctness is not Enough
by Josiah Bunting III

Not long before leaving his job as Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta announced that women would be eligible for service in all branches of the military establishment, not excluding duty in the “combat” arms, and not, specifically, excluding duty in infantry units, Army and Marine, in direct combat with an enemy. Among the influences driving the Secretary’s order was the presumption that female officers and senior non-commissioned officers would likely continue to be under-represented in the most senior grades: ground combat remaining the sine qua non among criteria ordinarily used in judging fitness for promotion. (read full article)

The Military's March to Equality
by Kiron K. Skinner

On January 24, 2013, Leon E. Panetta, then Secretary of Defense, and Army General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of State, signed a memorandum rescinding the 1994 ban on women serving below the battalion level and eliminating the remaining sex-based restrictions throughout the services. Panetta’s rationale was lofty: “If members of our military can meet the qualifications for a job…then they should have the right to serve, regardless of creed or color or gender or sexual orientation.” (read full article)


Should women serve in front line combat units?