The military has been revisiting and rewriting a lot of policy in the past couple years, the biggest of which include the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and now with the opening of various combat roles to women. Granted this is not a wide open doorway yet because Commanders have the ability to define and compile a list of roles which may still be male only as the lift on the ban doesn’t hit its final phase until 2016. It is however a start to fully equalized armed forces unit. Is it a good thing however?
There are many people who are dead set against women having direct combat role, and these are often the people who don’t realize women have been in combat roles for a while, personally I know a handful of female fighter pilots. Medics, Flight Nurses, Combat Engineers, etc all have women currently fulfilling those roles. The lifted ban only covers the units such as infantry, armored, and special operations.Which as much as I am for equal rights, I hesitate to see as a bad thing in some situations.
Now of the arguments against having women in combat, some I agree with and others I find ridiculous. One such argument is that any male soldier upon seeing a female soldier (marine, airman, etc) get shot next to them would have a much harder time dealing with that scenario, due to the male instinct to protect women, and might retaliate in a non-sanctioned manner. I can’t say I have ever been deployed, or in an actual combat, I have been in a number of realistic training missions however. I can tell you from my experience you care about on your team like you are family, closer in some cases, and in the moment when it goes to hell it doesn’t matter who gets hit, male/female the line disappears.
What does make sense to me is the hesitation to open all roles due to the physical requirements currently set in place, the standards are their for a reason, and right now no matter what branch of the military there are separate physical requirements for males and females. A separation like this can not exist in certain career fields, especially the special operations fields. My fear is that in this demand for equality there may enter a group of soldiers who are less capable in roles where physical capabilities are everything. I have no doubt that there are women who would have little trouble passing these requirements, but in the back of my mind I find myself thinking of the scenario where I’m injured, unable to walk and the Spec Ops medic that comes to get me is a woman, in that moment I don’t want to have to wonder if she is going to be able to carry me and my gear out a hazardous area, I want to know.
There also is the issue of what happens if the unit commander is a woman in an area of the world where a woman will not be looked upon as a leader, or with the respect necessary to operate in that territory. At that point the mission is put at risk because the locals will not cooperate with that unit.
In the end it’s a touchy issue, with many unanswered questions that have 3 years to be worked out. Hopefully in that time the details will be worked out so that the best options for all involved is in place. Until then, we get to talk.