The ban on women in combat will officially end

Defense Department file photo

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Wednesday that the Pentagon is lifting its ban on women serving in combat — even though women actually have been serving in war zones for years, according to several news reports. The decision comes less than two weeks after the Army began allowing women to become special operations pilots and crew chiefs. In November, four female military members filed suit to challenge the ban, which was instated in 1994. The lawsuit argued something many others have claimed — that women are already unofficially serving in combat.

Over the years, people have made silly cases against women in combat, but the prevailing argument seems to have been that women have less upper body strength than men — and so would have trouble carrying heavy rucksacks over long distances or wounded soldiers out of harm's way. But the U.S. isn't fighting trench warfare like it in World War II. It's fighting insurgencies. As the Center for American Progress argued last month, "Policies designed to keep servicewomen from the frontlines of battle cannot be enforced where frontlines do not exist." 

More than 130 women have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Women serve in most jobs in the military, including the most stereotypically macho position like drill sergeant, a job that involves spectacular feats of high-decibel insult comedy, often at wee hours of the night.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.