U.S. Military To Allow Women In All Combat Roles

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Today, the Pentagon is set to announce that the U.S. military will permit women to join all combat roles. The changes will take full effect on January 1, 2016.

From Associated Press:

Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday ordered the military to open all combat jobs to women, rebuffing requests by the Marine Corps to exclude women from certain front-line combat jobs.

Declaring that “we are a joint force,” Carter said that while moving women into these jobs will present challenges, the military can no longer afford to exclude half of the population from grueling military jobs. He said that any man or woman who meets the standards should be able to serve, and he gave the armed services 30 days to submit plans to make the historic change.

Carter’s order opens the final 10 percent of military positions to women, and allows them to serve in the military’s most demanding and difficult jobs, including as special operations forces, such as the Army Delta units and Navy SEALs.

The extent of my military expertise goes about as far as “five kills in a row equals airstrike,” so I’m far from qualified to weigh in on this type of subject, but I’m going to throw my two cents in there anyway. Such is the life of an internet blogger.

While a badass, muscular, Ronda Rousey-type woman may be capable of passing the physical requirements to join men on the frontlines of combat, I feel like there’s a lot more to it. There’s a brotherhood aspect crucial to the training of elite soldiers. Throwing a woman in the mix could stir up emotional distractions. Should a male soldier have the mental fortitude to be unaffected by the presence of a woman in arms by his side? That’s not for me to say.

But I will say this: Gen. Joseph Dunford, joint chief of staff chairman and former Marine Corps commandant, thinks it’s a bad idea. He cited studies showing mixed-gender units already underperform all-male units. More importantly, the dude has been there. As a former high-ranking Marine, he knows what the environment is like and what is best for that environment.

Now let’s look at who handed down the order to allow women in frontline combat roles: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Carter is a former physicist and former Harvard professor with no history of service to speak of. When it comes to an inside perspective on what combat and preparing for combat is actually like (negotiating foreign policy from behind a desk does not count as “inside perspective”) Carter is right next to me on the couch, Xbox controller in-hand. I can’t help but feel as though he is merely catering to proponents of broader social issues who also lack insight into the realities of war.

Then again, the Associated Press adds that Dunford was the only joint chief of staff on a panel of seven decorated members to oppose allowing women in some combat roles. But that’s also “according to several U.S. officials” who weren’t named.

As Marine commandant, Dunford was the only service chief to recommend that some front-line combat jobs stay male-only, according to several U.S. officials.

Military people, I know there’s at least a few of you reading this. What do you think?

[via Associated Press]

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