Quick Takes: Women in Combat Units

Military Should Hire Based on Merit

For a country that prides itself on equal opportunity, it seems hypocritical for our military to prevent women from having the same opportunities as men. Females who are qualified for positions in combat should not be turned away — they should have every opportunity that any male of equal qualifications would.

According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon opened nearly 14,000 new combat positions to women this year. This is an improvement, but it is not enough. Women are still not being recognized for their service in positions that they actually unofficially do. Stepping foot in Iraq or Afghanistan counts as serving in a combat zone, says U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Zoe Bedell, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

And though there are more opportunities, they aren’t the same ones offered to men. Army Times wrote that the revisions to the order only opened up 5 percent of the 250,000 positions that are currently closed to women. Despite these efforts to provide more jobs, the numbers do not even remotely compare to the 47 percent of women that make up the total U.S. labor force, a number released by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2010.

Present here is an inequality of job opportunities and services to our country. Women who have proven abilities in said disciplines should not be discriminated against because of their gender. Ability and merit should be the only qualifications considered.

— Lauren Koa
Contributing Writer

Including Women May Increase Abuse

Officials claim the integration of women into direct combat will have negative repercussions on combat effectiveness as well as put women at a higher risk for abuse.

Despite a long-standing zero-tolerance policy on sex offenses, a 2009 survey by the Department of Defense found that one in three female soldiers have reported experiencing sexual assault, while four in five say they have declared being subjected to sexual harassment. Integration of women into male-dominated combat units may only worsen this data by hurling women headfirst into abusive environments.

Furthermore, in 2001 the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found that female soldiers sustain twice the amount of stress fractures — small bone fractures caused by repeated muscle strain — than males do while participating in the same physical activities. The resulting higher injury rates may cost the military financially and undermine the effectiveness of combat units. The U.K. Ministry of Defence also cited male soldiers’ undue attention to wounded females at the risk of their own lives as a main concern in their decision to exclude women from combat units in 2010; this can adversely affect team cohesion and have grave consequences in close-quarter combat.

Before the Department of Defense makes any change to its policy, it needs to be certain the military can adjust to the problems associated with this change.

— Nico Hemsley
Contributing Writer

Allowing Women is Next Progressive Step

A recent lawsuit is challenging the ban on women serving in direct combat, even if they have proven themselves to be as physically fit as men. Women should be allowed to serve in combat because they have played an instrumental role in the success of the U.S. military — females currently account for roughly 20 percent of the military. Preventing the service of women in combat neglects past social accomplishments that have contributed not only to the military strength of the U.S., but also to America as a progressive society.

Recent historical changes, from the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell ” in 2011, to President Obama acknowledging same-sex marriage in May 2012, have sizably moved the U.S. forward. Just as gays are allowed to openly serve after DADT was repealed, women should be able to serve in combat. Many females, according to a survey by the U.S. Military Army Research Institute, meet the military’s physical and mental toughness standards. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the British Ministry of Defense in 2010, 12 countries, including powerhouses such as Germany, Israel and France allow women in combat.

If women fail to adequately meet the demands of combat tasks, it would be appropriate to select troops who are better qualified in terms of physical abilities. But simply ignoring the ability of women does not— and should not—represent America’s military.

— Vivek Patel
Staff Writer