February 4, 2013 by Gina
Almost two weeks ago, the Department of Defense made a change to their policy. Women would now be allowed to serve in combat positions in the United States military. On January 24th, Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, announced this change to a 1994 ban prohibiting women from serving in combat roles. The change, however, will likely be gradual and take several years to fully implement.
As a former Army officer myself (who happens to also be female) and also the wife of an Army soldier, I definitely have opinions on this decision. First, I think this is a welcome change! Women have been serving in combat units for a long time, but in service support roles. Maybe they were the intelligence officer for a field artillery unit or worked in the motor pool for a combat engineer unit. Women have also been serving our nation in Afghanistan and Iraq alongside their male counterparts. Unfortunately, they often do not receive similar recognition for serving in these dangerous locations because they are not technically in combat roles.
This decision opens up thousands of jobs in the military for women, including the Army’s infantry, combat engineers and field artillery. It could also open up elite military positions in units such as the Rangers or Navy Seals. Standards for these positions shouldn’t change as women enter these combat military occupational specialties (MOSs). But I’m excited to see this official change. For those serving our nation, it will likely be a seamless change since women serve in every type of unit.
I’m proud to have served our country as a military intelligence officer (who is also Airborne qualified) and I am proud of the women AND men who continue to serve. Congratulations Department of Defense of a needed change!