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Entries in Military Diversity (1)

Saturday
Jan152011

Panel Recommends Allowing Women into Combat Roles

Image Courtesy - U.S. Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- On the heels of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't tell, a government panel that includes two dozen senior active-duty and retired military officers recommends another major change in U.S. military policy.

The panel, created by congress in 2009, is called the Military Leadership Diversity Commission and in a draft report it recommends allowing women into direct combat roles.  Women have been inching ever closer to that level of service for decades but because they have been prevented from serving at the direct ground combat level since the early 1990s, the panel finds their careers are sharply restricted.  They do not receive combat pay and find it much harder to achieve Flag/General officer status.

Among the factors the commission considered in its review was whether having women in combat roles alongside men would hamper unit effectiveness and morale.  The Huffington Post reports commission members reflected that the same arguments were made before the armed services were racially integrated decades ago and were proved untrue.

The panel's draft report says focus group members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan felt that women have had a positive effect on the missions there in spite of the restrictions on their service.  And they felt it important to make all the best talent available to the armed forces, regardless of gender.

The restrictions keeping women from serving at battalion level or below have not kept many from the line of fire.  Since 2001, 137 women have died in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The commission's final report comes out in March, at which point the Defense Department will review and consider its recommendations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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