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Women In Combat


The idea of women in combat is not unusual anymore. They
should be able to hold combat positions beacause although
physical strength matters, the military still needs the
intelligence that women can bring. Also, banning women from
the combat hurts their military careers. Although women
account for only ten percent of the enlisted personnel
(Time, 8/21/95/ Pg. 31), they are still a major part in the
armed forces. Their performance recently has generated
support from Congress and the public for enhancing the role
of females in the military. During the Persian Gulf War,
women were sent to the Middle East to fly helicopters,
service combat jets, refuel tankers, and load laser-guided
bombs. Their performance has led the world to realize that
women are extremely useful in combat. Defense secretary
Dick Chaney said "Women have made a major contribution to
this [war] effort. We could not have won without them."
Leaders in the field agreed. The Gulf War had the largest
deployment of women in the armed forces in history. These
women encountered the same risks as the men they served
with. Twenty one females lost their lives (Holm, Women in
Combat: The New Reality, pg. 67-68).
In the Persian Gulf, there were no exact positions and all
areas were equally vulnerable, so the idea of safe havens
for women was not really applicable. By many armed forces
policies, females are banned from combat jobs and units,
but in the Persian Gulf War females were assigned to
battleships, aircraft carriers, and marine support groups
dug into the desert. From their experience in the Persian
Gulf, military women have earned the right to be treated as
equals with men and not as protected individuals. In spite
of their record as able combat personnel, there are laws
and policies that restrict women in the United States
Military from serving in positions that require them to
engage in direct combat. Women in the Air Force and Navy
are barred from aircraft and vessels that have a chance to
be exposed to combat. The official, established policies of
the Army and Marine Corps exclude women from combat
(Snyder, pg. 75-76). These policies prohibit women, on the
basis of gender only, from over twelve percent of the skill
positions and thirty-nine percent of the total positions
offered by the Department of Defense. Such policies
excluding women from combat need to be repealed by
Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment's "Equal Protection
Clause" insures every citizen "the equal protection of the
laws." Although the clause is not applicable to Federal government, the Supreme Court said the Due Process Clause
in the Fifth Amendment prohibits the federal government
from making unreasonable classifications. Therefore the set
laws and policies that exclude women from combat not only
violate the Fifth Amendment, but also deny women their
fundamental right to engage and excel in their chosen
There have been many court cases involving women in combat
over the years, although there has never been a case
directly challenging the constitutionality laws and
regulations banning women from combat. In the case of
Frontiero vs. Richardson, the court rejected the idea that
"man is, or should be, woman's protector or defender,"
which in actuality, put women not on a pedestal, but in a
cage. In Satty vs. Nashville Gas Co., the decision stated
that gender does not determine who is able to perform
capably as a soldier. In the case of Schlesinger vs.
Ballard, it was realized by the Supreme Court that the
combat exclusion hinders the abilities of women to gain the
experience needed for promotion within the military. The
combat exclusion puts women wishing to obtain qualification
for high-level positions at a disadvantage, because
leadership training is usually acquired in combat-type
positions. Although many females are not eager to go into
combat, there are women who can and want to do the job. In
a time where technology takes over battle lines and brains
might be more important than brawn, a reason to exclude
women is non-existant.


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