(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Mike Doran.)
The U.S. Military is going to allow women to fill all combat positions, CNN reports.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced this week that all branches of the military would now open some 200,000 combat positions to women, including elite fighting forces like the Navy SEALS. This decision comes after the recent graduation of two females from the U.S. Army’s Ranger School earlier this year. The women could not apply to the 75th Ranger Regiment until now.
“This means that as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They’ll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Carter said at a news conference Thursday.
“There will be no exceptions,” Carter added.
However, not all leadership at the Pentagon agrees with the decision. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been a strong proponent of limiting the combat roles of women.
Dunford was pointedly not at the press conference, stating he was “not comfortable” sharing a stage with Carter to just be a “potted plant,” according to a senior Obama official.
The Marine general instead released a statement neither praising the decision nor condemning it, saying, “In the wake of the secretary’s decision, my responsibility is to ensure his decision is properly implemented.”
“Moving forward,” Dunford continued, “my focus is to lead the full integration of women in a manner that maintains our joint warfighting capability, ensures the health and welfare of our people, and optimizes how we leverage talent across the Joint Force.”
Dunford is well justified in his position, as a yearlong Marine study found that all-male squads performed better than mixed groups in 69 percent of the tasks evaluated, according to NPR.
Males were faster, there was a “notable difference” between the genders on accuracy with weapon systems, and females were hurt more often than their male counterparts. But that won’t deter ‘progress.’
In a statement after the press conference, President Obama likened the decision to the desegregation of the military and the more recent repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy allowing inclusion of openly gay and lesbian service members, saying these decisions “made our military stronger,” reports NPR.
“As Commander in Chief, I know that this change, like others before it, will again make our military even stronger,” said the president. “Our armed forces will draw on an even wider pool of talent. Women who can meet the high standards required will have new opportunities to serve.
“I know that, under the leadership of Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford, our men and women in uniform will implement this transition — as they have others — in a responsible manner that maintains military readiness and the unparalleled professionalism and strength of our armed forces,” Obama continued. “Together, we’re going to make sure our military remains the finest fighting force in the history of the world, worthy of all our patriots who serve — men and women.”
Defense Secretary Carter stresses that women’s role in combat will be contingent on their ability to meet the qualifications, and those deemed fit may be assigned combat roles regardless of their desire to fill them.
The process of integrating women into combat roles must begin in the next 30 days, he says.
Do you agree with President Obama that this is just the next logical step to equality, or does putting women in combat positions only weaken our military?