J’Dana Holsinger, ’Doah Staff Writer
February 6, 2013
On Thursday, Jan. 24, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and himself had decided to lift the longtime ban on women being in combat. Until now, while women have been able to serve in every branch of the military, there have been limitations.
Females were not allowed to be put on the front lines because the military did not think they were strong enough to handle the position, and they feared it would hinder the unity and cohesion of the men on the ground. According to Panetta, “Allowing women to serve in combat roles will strengthen the U.S. military’s ability to win wars.”
He went on to say, “Every person in today’s military has made a solemn commitment to fight and, if necessary, to die, for our nation’s defense. We owe it to them to allow them to pursue every avenue of military service for which they are fully prepared and qualified. Their career success and their specific opportunities should be based solely on their ability to successfully carry out an assigned mission. Everyone deserves that chance.”
The decision to remove this ban has been praised by many politicians, advocacy groups and citizens; however, there are also a handful of individuals that believe that this decision is a mistake. Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum said, “I do have concerns about women in front-line combat, I think that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission, because of other types of emotions that are involved.”
Many people also have concerns about the physical capabilities of women when it comes to carrying out particular missions. A former infantryman and current Shenandoah University student said, “Opening combat arms MOS’s to women will lead to a myriad of problems. Not just in combat, but in garrison as well. The powers that be may not lower standards at first, but it’s only a matter of time before quotas need to be met and physical standards are lowered, especially under the current administration. Regardless of a woman meeting the standard or not, men will look at these females differently than they would another man. It may not sound fair, but that’s the way it goes.”
When asked about women in combat, a female, middle-aged, nurse practitioner said, “There are many differences between men and women in nature as well as roles in military servitude. The aptitude, sentiment, conviction and qualifications of women in those roles should, in my opinion, be comparable to their male counterparts serving in the same role. As challenging as it is to call for equality, the vast majority of women will not be physically capable of the same training.
“That being said, it should be appreciated that women’s strengths in general should not be overlooked. There are many women that have proven themselves as exemplary in strategic reasoning. Women are also capable of enduring and sustaining situations that are challenging for most men. In other words, I believe if a woman is capable, and desires to serve in a combat military capacity — it should be embraced. I believe that any person, man or woman, with the aptitude toward specific tasks be allowed to engage in those tasks for the greater good.”
While allowing women to be in the infantry has drawn praise and skepticism from all sides, the true result and effectiveness of this decision will be displayed over the coming months and years. Over 200,000 combat posts will now be open for women to vie for along with the men. May 15, of this year, is the proposed date to have these positions readily available to women who choose to go out for them. These positions are generally Army and Marine jobs.
It is still unclear whether women will be able to hold positions in special units such as the Army’s Delta Force or the Navy SEALS. The separate branches have until January of 2016 to propose valid reasons for why women should not be allowed in these high-level combat posts. Whether or not people are for or against this move, this is a monumental decision for our nation’s history and goes to show how much our nation values and promotes equality.
What do you think?