The U.S. Army recently announced that it would begin assigning females to combat units on a test basis – a step in the direction of fully removing barriers for women in combat.
I see this policy change as a positive and welcome full integration of women into combat units. After the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the question of women in combat is the final frontier in equal treatment for all military members.
Traditionally, the Army has prohibited women from direct assignment in infantry, armor, artillery and other “combat” units, regardless of the occupational specialty of the female soldier. However, this prohibition has not separated women from combat. Females have been serving in combat for many years, especially in the wake of more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During my deployments to Iraq, it was not uncommon to see female soldiers manning crew-served weapons as part of logistics convoys. It also was common to see female soldiers serving as door-gunners on Blackhawk helicopters. Although these soldiers were not assigned to “combat” units, they were undeniably performing combat duty. Their lives were just as much at risk as males, and they performed the same wartime tasks.
The recent policy change will allow these female warriors to continue their hard work alongside our frontline troops and may pave the way for future advancements in military gender equality. There will definitely be some growing pains associated with this decision, but I believe the benefits of opening combat specialties to the other 50 percent of our population will prevail.
Capt. Jason M. Musgrove
(The writer is stationed at Fort Gordon as an Intermediate-Level Education student.)