The idea of women in combat is not unusual anymore. They should be able to hold combat positions beacausealthough physical strength matters, the military still needs the intelligence that women can bring. Also, banning women from the combat hurts their military careers. Although women account for only ten percent of the enlisted personnel (Time, 8/21/95/ Pg.
31), theyare still a major part in the armed forces. Their performance recently has generated support from Congress andthe public for enhancing the role of females in the military. During the Persian Gulf War, women were sent to the Middle East to fly helicopters, service combat jets, refuel tankers, and load laser-guided bombs. Theirperformance has led the world to realize that women are extremely useful in combat. Defense secretary DickChaney said “Women have made a major contribution tothis effort.Order now
We could not have won without them. ” Leaders in the field agreed. The Gulf War had the largestdeployment of women in the armed forces in history. Thesewomen encountered the same risks as the men they served with. Twenty one females lost their lives (Holm, Women inCombat: The New Reality, pg.
67-68). In the Persian Gulf, there were no exactpositions and all areas were equally vulnerable, so the idea of safe havens for women was not reallyapplicable. By many armed forces policies, females are banned from combat jobs and units, but in the Persian Gulf War females were assigned to battleships, aircraft carriers, and marine support groups dug into the desert. Fromtheir experience in the Persian Gulf, military women have earned the right to be treated as equals withmen and not as protected individuals. In spite of their record as able combat personnel, thereare laws and policies that restrict women in the UnitedStates Military from serving in positions that requirethem to engage in direct combat. Women in the Air Force and Navy are barred from aircraft and vessels thathave a chance to be exposed to combat.
The official, established policies of the Army and Marine Corps exclude women from combat (Snyder, pg. 75-76). These policies prohibit women, on the basis of gender only, from over twelve percent of the skill positions and thirty-nine percent of the total positions offered by the Department of Defense. Such policies excluding women from combat need to be repealed by Congress.
The Fourteenth Amendment’s “Equal Protection Clause” insuresevery citizen “the equal protection of the laws. ” Although the clause is not applicable to Federal government, the Supreme Court said the Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment prohibits the federal government from making unreasonable classifications. Therefore the set laws and policies that exclude women from combat not only violate the Fifth Amendment, but also deny women their fundamental right to engage and excel in their chosen occupation. There have been many court cases involving women in combat over the years, althoughthere has never been a case directly challenging the constitutionality laws andregulations banning women from combat. Inthe case of Frontiero vs.
Richardson, the courtrejected the idea that “man is, or should be,woman’s protector or defender,” which inactuality, put women not on a pedestal, but ina cage. In Satty vs. Nashville Gas Co. , the decision stated that gender does not determinewho is able to perform capably as a soldier. In the case of Schlesinger vs.
Ballard, it was realized by the Supreme Court that the combat exclusion hinders the abilitiesof women to gain the experience needed for promotion within the military. The combatexclusion puts women wishing to obtain qualification for high-level positions at adisadvantage, because leadership training is usually acquired in combat-type positions. Although many females are not eager to go intocombat, there are women who can and want to dothe job. In a time where technology takes over battle lines and brains might be moreimportant than brawn, a reason to exclude women is non-existant. By: Megan Craven, Jennifer Kopper, Stacey RohrerSources: Time Magazine, Aug 21, 1991 p.
31. Holm, Jeanne, Women in Combat: The New Reality, pg. 67-68. Snyder, Kathy L.
“An Equal Right to Fight.”