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Entries in Women in Combat (7)

Wednesday
Jan302013

Marine Commandant: Women Might Not Be Used for Some Combat Roles

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Pentagon's decision to allow women into combat roles could still exclude them from certain jobs, Gen. James Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, has told USA Today.

Amos says the Marines won't lower physical standards for certain specialties, insisting his branch of the service "can't make adjustments on what's required on the battlefield."

The general maintained that if only a small number of women qualify for certain jobs, then the Marines will keep those positions exclusive to men.

However, Amos believes "Those will be few and far between."  Currently, there are 30 combat roles in the Marines that aren't open to women in the service.

In reversing a ban last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said women should be eligible for all fields, including infantry, tanks, artillery and other combat arms, although the entire process could take years to complete.

Whatever fields remain closed to women will ultimately be up to whoever is the new defense secretary since Panetta is retiring soon.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov282012

Female Servicewomen Sue Pentagon over Combat Policy

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Pentagon on behalf of four women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan but feel stifled "by a policy that does not grant them the same recognition for their service as their male counterparts."

Specifically, the servicewomen argue that the Defense Department's combat exclusion policy prevents them from achieving the same leadership roles as men.

In one instance, according to the ACLU, Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, an Air National Guard search-and-rescue helicopter pilot, was shot down while rescuing three injured soldiers in Afghanistan and was forced to exchange fire with the enemy.

Although Hegar was awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, she maintains she was kept from seeking other responsibilities due to the Pentagon's policy against women in ground combat.

Meanwhile, two of the plaintiffs led Marine Corps "female engagement teams" in Afghanistan and the fourth plaintiff, while in the Army, was sent on similar missions, accompanying combat troops in Afghanistan.

However, the ACLU says because the missions were temporary duties, they were not officially recognized by their services.

According to the ACLU, women make up 14 percent of the armed forces, with 1.4 million now actively serving.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

Pentagon Eases Restrictions on Women Serving in the Military

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- America’s fighting women are getting closer to the front lines.

The Pentagon announced rule changes Thursday regarding the roles of women in the military that must first be approved by Congress before taking effect as soon as this summer.

Basically, nearly 14,000 combat support positions will be available to female service members that will put them near the front lines although they still won’t be allowed to join infantry combat units.

Once only reserved for men because the jobs were at the combat brigade level, the new positions will now be available at the lower battalion level and include communications, intelligence and logistical jobs.

Most of the women affected by the changes are enlisted in the Army, which deploys the greatest number of ground combat units.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul292011

Special Ops Commander: Women Should Go into Combat as SEALs

U.S. Navy/Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon(WASHINGTON) -- The top commander of U.S. special operations says he thinks it's time for women to go into combat as Navy SEALS.

A Navy SEAL himself, Adm. Eric T. Olson said at the opening session of the 2011 Aspen Security Forum that he would like to see female SEALs in combat roles.

"As soon as policy permits it, we'll be ready to go down that road," said Olson.

He added that being a SEAL is not just about physical strength.

"I don't think the idea is to select G.I. Jane and put her through SEAL training, but there are a number of things that a man and a woman can do together that two guys can't," said Olson.  "I don't think it's as important that they can do a lot of push-ups.  I think it's much more important what they're made of and whether or not they have the courage and the intellectual agility to do that."

While women serve in the U.S. special forces community as information specialists and civil affairs specialists, there are currently no female SEALs, Green Berets, Rangers or Marine special operators as a result of the 1994 combat exclusion policy that precludes women from being assigned to ground combat units.

But given the unique access females can secure with local women in conservative societies where the U.S. military is operating, said Admiral Olson, "Cultural Support Teams" made up of two to four women were created last year to be attached to SEAL teams and Green Beret units and are already at work.  Olson said that 56 more women graduated last week, "all of whom will be in Afghanistan by the end of August."

"We don't have nearly enough," said Olson, "and we're too late bringing them into what it is we have them doing."

Last March, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission recommended that the Department of Defense and the services eliminate combat exclusion policies for women.  Though women have for years served in ground combat, they have done so by serving in units deemed attached to ground units, which keeps them from being recognized for their combat experience and curtails their chances of being promoted.

While he would not comment on the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Olson said that "there were somewhere between 3,000 to 4000, depending on how you count them, operations of this nature conducted in 2010 alone."  Calling the operations "routine," the admiral said they range from knocking on a door to more "kinetic" action.

Olson, who is in charge of managing and coordinating the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special forces, jokingly likened his job to that of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying, "There's a lot of warlord management," drawing laughter from the audience.  "It's a paella and at the end of the day it tastes good, but it's tough to put together sometimes."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar162011

Three-Quarters of Americans Back Women in Combat Roles

Jupiterimages/Comstock(NEW YORK) -- The Military Leadership Diversity Commission has company.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans agree that women in the armed services should be allowed to serve in ground units that engage in direct combat.
 
The commission, established by Congress in 2009 to evaluate military policies, recommended earlier this month that the U.S. military stop excluding women from ground combat units, saying such policies do not in fact keep them out of combat situations, deny them equal opportunities to serve, and interfere with their promotion to senior ranks.
 
And the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds little controversy about it.  Seventy-three percent of Americans say they support allowing women in the military to serve in ground units that engage in close combat -- essentially the same among men and women alike.
 
There are some differences among groups.  Support for allowing women in combat roles peaks among young adults -- 86 percent of those under 30 years old -- while dropping to 57 percent among senior citizens.  And it's higher among more-educated Americans -- 79 percent among those with college degrees versus 66 percent among people who haven't finished high school.
 
Politically, support for allowing women in combat roles is higher among Democrats (80 percent) and independents (73 percent) than it among Republicans (62 percent).  It ranges from 85 percent among liberals to 58 percent among "very" conservative Americans, but in no group is a majority opposed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar082011

Military Panel Recommends Putting Women in the Battlefield

Jupiterimages/Comstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Should women soldiers take up arms on the battlefield?  The Military Leadership Diversity Commission says it's time that happened.

In a recommendation delivered to the Pentagon Monday, the commission strongly advised that policies excluding women from combat and other "barriers and inconsistencies" need to be eliminated to level the playing field so that women can advance in the military.

Commission leader and retired Air Force Gen. Lester Lyles said, "We know that [the exclusion] hinders women from promotion.  We want to take away all the hindrances and cultural biases."

Lyle pointed out that today's conflicts are vastly different from the Cold War era because women now "serve and lead military security, military police units, air defense units, intelligence units."

If the Defense Department agrees, it would repeal a 1994 combat exclusion policy that was crafted before women were assigned to combat units.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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