News / USA

Pentagon to Allow Women in Key Combat Roles by 2016

US Military Unveils Plans to Admit Women to Combat Positionsi
June 19, 2013 12:27 PM
U.S. women will soon be able to serve in many combat positions previously reserved for men. Military officials announced plans Tuesday to open thousands of combat jobs to women by 2016. Zlatica Hoke reports.
US Military Unveils Plans to Admit Women to Combat Positions
Luis Ramirez
The U.S. military says that within the next three years, it will put women in key combat roles from which they were previously excluded.  

American women have been serving in combat roles and hundreds have been killed on the front lines for years, but they have been excluded from key positions in areas including Special Operations and infantry.

In January, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced changes to regulations banning women from 237,000 positions.   

On Tuesday, officials from all four branches of the U.S. military gathered at the Pentagon to announce a timeline for those changes.  The Marines already have come up with new gender-neutral physical tests, and by the middle of 2015, the Army will have new standards that will allow women to be part of its elite Ranger regiment.

U.S. Army Major General Bennet Sacolick was among those making the announcement.  He said it is the start of a new era, and he referred to the action film series depicting a U.S. war hero who relies much on his brute strength.

“We're looking for smart, qualified operators.  You know, there's a new dynamic.  The days of Rambo are over.  We're looking for young men that can speak and learn a foreign language and understand culture, that can work with indigenous populations and culturally tuned manners.  The defining characteristic of our operators [is] intellect," said Sacolick.

The changes have prompted questions of whether changing standards will diminish military readiness. Among their concerns, critics say having women in tight-knit, high-stress situations will create privacy issues and hurt unit cohesiveness.

Officials on Tuesday said they are fine-tuning their plans before beginning the implementation and looking at models of other countries such as Israel and Canada, which have successfully integrated women into their militaries.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said he is confident the changes will not diminish the U.S. military's effectiveness.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mark T
June 19, 2013 12:32 PM
to begin with, I am a veteran of 10 years in two Branches of Service (Air Force and Marine Corps) and am proud of this country and my Service to it. I have served alongside women in many capacities and have no issues with it. But it breaks my heart to know that so many women have been killed in combat, where I do not believe they should be involved. Is our respect for women in this country so low that we now have no regrets sending them in as cannon fodder onto a battlefield? I know war is messy and indiscriminate, having seen it firsthand, and I have no doubts that women can do ANY job as well as a man can, but do we HAVE to expose them to the same horrid and terrible things now just to prove they can...?

Can a man bear children? Can a man ensure the continuance of life? A woman can, and it is that, and mainly that fact, that we should protect and cherish. I am truly heartbroken. Shame on us. Other countries may have successfully integrated women into combat roles (I believe Canada was mentioned in the article), but are Canadian women serving in front line capacities around the world? Are Canadian women exposed to life-ending dangers at this moment in a foreign war? Just because other countries have done this, does not mean we Americans have to.

It has been proved, in past wars (notable WWII) casualty rates among women in combat roles were higher than in units that did not have women in combat positions. The Pentagon is letting this country down with this action, they are not protecting our Nation as they should be if they are allowing women to die alongside men in our Unpleasant Entanglements abroad.

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