February 27, 2012
By Lance Cpl. Chelsea Flowers
For the last several years, in the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, women have fought and died in combat zones.
Although not serving in infantry units, female medics, military police officers and intelligence officers have been ushered onto the obscure front lines of combat to aid ground troops. Now, the Pentagon is proposing new regulations to reflect this existing reality.
The Pentagon passed a new ruling Feb. 9 to lift some of the restrictions on positions that women can hold, putting them closer to the front lines.
The topic of women serving in combat roles has been one of great controversy. For the past several years the lack of clearly defined front lines have forced women into imminent danger. Although never assigned to infantry units, women still provide support from the air, deliver supplies and provide medical assistance to units at the forefront of combat.
“Women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission,” said Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense. “Through their courage, sacrifice, patriotism and great skill, women have proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles on and off the battlefield. We will continue to open as many positions as possible to women so that anyone qualified to serve can have the opportunity to do so.”
Officials say the new ruling will open up more positions such as communications, intelligence and logistics at the lower battalion level, not just the combat brigade level. This means that women won’t have new jobs, but will be allowed to work closer with units whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.
The policy changes will not go into effect until after 30 days of continuous session of Congress later this spring.
Although infantry roles will still not be open to women, if the new ruling passes, it leaves open the possibility for future changes in that direction. Only time will tell.