Last week was quite a week for women in the news. I’m not talking about Beyonce’s half-time performance at the Superbowl or the continuing saga of whether Hillary Clinton will run for president in 2016.
I’m talking about the fact that the U.S. military ended its ban on women in combat.
With the U.S. military’s decision allowing women to take on combat roles in wartime, America is saying that eventually, all military positions will be open to women. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last week that the military will eliminate the policy of “no women in units that are tasked with direct combat.”
While defense officials said not every position will open all at once, the Department of Defense will enter an “assessment phase,” in which each branch of service will examine all its jobs and units not currently integrated and then produce a timetable for integrating them.
The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report on their progress.
Women in the military have a history that extends more than 4,000 years in the past, throughout a large number of cultures and nations. Women have played many roles in the military, from ancient warrior women, to the women currently serving in conflicts, even though the vast majority of all combatants have been men in every culture. In the American Civil War, there were a few women who cross-dressed as men in order to fight.
The roles of women in the military, particularly in combat, haven’t been without controversy.
But now America has said women are fully equal to men in the military. Women can serve in combat. No longer do we see women as a class that needs protection from the horrors of war.
The change needed to be made. Within the military structure, serving in combat is something that is deemed necessary in order to climb in rank. Promotion to some high positions requires combat service.
This action clears the way for women who want to serve our military in every capacity.