American women are already serving in combat. Although news analysts and commentators continue to debate the merits of placing women in combat roles, many women soldiers and veterans have been dealing with the realities of combat duty for quite some time.
The recent change in U.S. Department of Defense policy now allows women to participate fully in combat missions, effectively approving the existing situation for a number of women serving in the Iraq War and Afghan War over the past decade. One of the rationales for changing the policy was to provide service women with equal access to combat pay and benefits.
NPR reports on the experiences of American women in combat. The New York Times offers accounts of American servicewomen whose careers were affected by the previous ban on women in combat.
“The recent change in U.S. Department of Defense policy now allows women to participate fully in combat missions, effectively approving the existing situation of women serving in the Iraq War and Afghan War over the past decade.”
Actually, this doesn’t approve the existing situation–women have not been serving in infantry roles that require them to kick down doors and pursue the bad guys. There’s a difference in going looking for a fight and being in a transportation convoy and having a fight come find you. Going on a “combat mission” connotes seeking contact with the enemy, something that women have generally been limited to doing on the Aviation side of things to this point. Semantic point, and one that does nothing to diminish the service of those women who have been in combat (I’m an intel guy who also has not been in a position to go kick down doors), but it will be interesting to see how many women apply to switch MOS to infantry or armor now that these positions are open to them.
Nate: Thanks for your comment and for your helpful observation about the distinction between offensive and defensive combat roles.