Women in Combat Essay

The homeland defense was considered to be traditional male occupation. Today women hold the same positions as men in the army, frequently do not only yield to men but pass ahead of them in dealing with physical and intellectual challenges. Last century of the past millennium has changed many of the stereotypes of social consciousness. In particular it was seriously refocused the role and place of women in society and the armed forces. The military is no longer given only to men. However, the role of women in the current contemporary operating environment challenges the validity of the current US DOD policy.

In January 2005, in one of the interviews with The Washington Times concerning the recent changes inside the Army and the war in Iraq, President Bush stated: „There’s no change of policy as far as I’m concerned. No women in combat“(Wise & Baron, 2006). Theoretically, there were not made any changes in the policy. However, since President Bush as the Commander-in-Chief has involved military power in the war against global terrorism, and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan have begun, both men and women were engaged in combat (Fenner & Young, 2001).

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Such operations as Iraqi Freedom in Iraq Enduring and Freedom in Afghanistan were the most major operations that opened hundreds of thousands of new positions for woman. Women were not only deployed in the war but they also fought as fighter in all possible services. Thus, according to the Department of Defense (DOD) about 10,100 women were involved in Iraq war in May 2006, and 1900, women were involved in Afghanistan war, representing eight percent of the total military force (Wise & Baron, 2006).

Today, in American army there are more than 198,000 women, representing 14.5% of the active force. One may say that American woman became an integral part of the military force. In spite of the fact that there are many women’s accomplishments in the American history as well as in the War on Terror, Department of Defense policy excludes women from serving in more than 200,000 positions in the army (Goldstein, 2001).

However, targeted efforts to eliminate discrimination against women in the U.S. Army has led to concrete results of the egalitarian policies of equal rights and equal opportunities for men and women. Among the most significant achievements in overcoming discrimination against women in the armed forces of the United States are the following: the right of women to hold positions in the mixed (consisting of men and women) units and parts, the right to enter the higher military schools, the right to receive flight training in the Air Force; permission to marry during the service; permission to continue the service for pregnant women and women with young children, the introduction of equal salary for officers, etc. (Fenner & Young, 2001).

In decision whether women should take a part in combat, it should be taken into consideration two major goals. The first goal is to guarantee equal rights and responsibilities of all citizens; the other is to ensure the combat effectiveness of our military. While experts have different points of view on the issue both criteria should be taken into account with the potential outcomes. Those experts who are agree that women should take part in combat tend to stress equal citizenship for women and men. The opponents of women in combat tend to emphasize the reduction in military strength and national defense that they see as a likely outcome of women in combat units (Lorry & Deyoung, 2001).

The most important principle on which American nation was created is the full involvement of all American people in all parts of the life of the nation. The rights of citizenship in American society are considered to be related to civic responsibilities, including military service. Thus, those who fight for equal citizenship rights, see serving in the military as one of the ways to achieve equal rights especially in combat roles. The „opportunity to serve in the combat branches“ is „associated with the notion of civic and personal fulfillment”. We often hear the statement, „If you want equal rights, you have to accept equal responsibilities“ (Mitchell 1998). This warning is currently being directed at women and serves as the basis of many young men’s opinion that if they are subject to military registration then young women should also be expected to register. The exclusion of women from combat roles serves not only as a major barrier to the careers of military women, but also to all U.S. women achieving full status as citizens.

Opponents of women in combat do not necessarily agree on the basis for that opposition. Even those who argue that reduced military effectiveness would result from the inclusion of women differ in the emphasis they give to the reasons for such weakness. Some stress the physiological characteristics of women that make them less suited to combat than men; some emphasize psychological differences between men and women; others are concerned about potential disruptions to the interpersonal relationships and cohesion of combat units. If, on the basis of credence given to these concerns, we exclude all women from combat while seeing men’s participation as a citizen’s duty, we thereby deny men and women equal status as citizens. It is, therefore, important to evaluate the validity of these concerns (Mitchell, 1998).

Surely, the role of women in the current contemporary operating environment challenges the validity of the current US DOD policy. However, US DOD policy has also its pros and cons. Nevertheless, I think the willingness to engage in actual combat, to kill and to risk being killed, depends upon a very strong devotion of the women in spite of all shortcomings of the US DOD policy.

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