Women in the U.S. military can now serve in front-line posts, thanks to a directive recently signed by out-going Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey. In other words, all positions in the military are now open to women, including direct-combat positions.
One question that a civilian* may be asking is this: Why would any woman want to be in a direct-combat position?
Well, there are two reasons that immediately come to mind.
#1 – Military personnel who have been in direct-combat positions have a better chance at gaining promotions than do military personnel who have never been in direct-combat positions.
#2 – Military personnel in direct-combat positions receive combat pay.
Female military personnel have already been serving in combat zones, and in doing so, have been in life-threatening positions. For example, newly-elected congresswoman Tammy Duckworth** is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard. As a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, she was flying a mission in Iraq when a rocket-propelled grenade struck her helicopter. The resulting explosion left Duckworth with both of her legs amputated.
CNN reports, “Women made up 67 of the nearly 3,500 Americans lost in hostile fire in Iraq and 33 of the 1,700-plus killed in combat in Afghanistan; more than 600 in Iraq and 300 in Afghanistan were wounded.” [Source]
Opinion: As long as women are already risking their lives serving in combat zones, they should have the same promotion and pay opportunities that men serving in combat zones have. Granted, equal opportunity should also require equal standards. A woman should meet the same minimum physical-fitness requirements that a man her age has to meet in order to have a direct-combat position.
What say you?
*For the purpose of this blog post, a civilian is defined as being someone who has never served in the military. The author of this blog post is an honorably-discharged veteran of the U.S. Navy.
**Tammy Duckworth’s political views are irrelevant to this post. You don’t have to agree with her politics in order to honor her as a combat veteran who became partially disabled as a result of her military service.