Yet another controversial issue has dominated the American media and even reached a United States District Court in San Francisco.
A federal lawsuit has been filed by four female service members Tuesday challenging the Pentagon’s 1994 combat exclusion policy that prevents women from being assigned to ground combat units, according to a Los Angeles Times article.
Ground combat units are usually smaller and considered to be more dangerous since they are out of the battlefield for prolonged periods of times. As of now the policy prevents women from being recognized for their battleground experience, which could lead to promotions and higher pay.
“The sweeping restriction based on gender is unconstitutional because it is not justified by a specific governmental objective,” states the lawsuit.
Unconstitutional or not, this policy should be revised to be fair to those brave women that are willing to put their lives on the line to defend our country. This policy is truly antiquated in its defense in the sense that the arguments defending it are weak.
While researching this subject I came across many statements that claim women do not have the physical or mental strength to be effective in combat units.
However, argument is nothing more than a cultural stereotype against the female gender. As a woman, statements that undermine our capability are highly offensive.
I have several friends that have signed up for the military and both men and women go through the same training regimen. They have told me that women shoot, exercise, develop the same combat mind-set and develop all other military skills, just as men do.
There are no differences there.
Physically women can be an advantage in combat because because of size and flexibility. According to an analysis on the Livestrong website “women’s bodies give them an edge in ultra endurance events and sports that emphasize flexibility.” Therefore, if ever the case came up women’s physical advantages over men could allow women to more easily fit into cramped tanks or other enclosed spaces.
Then there is the argument that the presence of women will distract male troops.
It is the fear of the policy supporters that male troops will not be able to perform necessary combat duties because they will be too focused on saving the women in the group. This shows a lack of confidence in our male troops and is an insult to the discipline they are taught in training. If man or woman saves a fellow soldier’s life in battle it is not because they are distracted or not focused on the task at hand; they do this because it is what they are trained to do and therefore should not be seen as a setback but a strength.
If a woman’s physical strength is not capable enough for combat and male troops are too distracted then maybe the real problem is in how these soldiers are being qualified to join the military.
The claim that co-ed combat units create sexual tension is also questionable; probably as offensive to men as it is to women. Both genders work side by side in many occupations, including this one. Sexual harassment and romantic relationships are issues one can face anywhere.
If this is posing an issue in the military it is not fueled by hormones but by poor leadership.
The News Tribune reports that more than 14 percent of the active U.S. military are women. A revision on this policy banning women from combat zones must be revised and hopefully this lawsuit will do just that. Women are already in combat and should be entitled to receive the promotions and veterans benefits associated with combat service.