Women in Combat
Women have played a tremendous role in many countries' armed forces from the past to the present. Women have thoroughly integrated into the armed forces; all positions in the armed forces should be fully accessible to women who can compete with men intellectually and physically.
Yet, many argue that the distinction between combat and non-combat becomes blurred in the context of women warfare (Ladin; Holm, Hoar). In actuality, many women are assigned to jobs that will expose them to enemy attack, and this has been openly acknowledged by the top Pentagon officials. The United States Army has also recognized that women would be deployed in combat zones as an inevitable consequence of their assignments. This was confirmed in the following statement made by then Army Chief of Staff, General Bernad W. Rogers, “Some people believe that women soldiers will not be deployed in the event of hostilities that they are only to be part-time soldier. Women are an essential part of the force; they will deploy with their units and they will serve in the skills in which they have been trained” (Holm).
It appears that women have been integrated into practically every aspect of the military; yet there are some jobs that remain closed to them, mainly, combat specialties (Holm; Hoar). It is over these exclusions that controversy rages. Technically, women are barred by law/ policy from what is defined in narrow terms as direct combat. Each of the United States Armed Services excludes females from active combat. The nature and extent of the exclusion varies with each service.
In today’s military, women were no longer confined to traditional roles in the medical and administrative fields. Almost all military job categories and military occupational specialties (MOS) have been opened to women. They now repair tanks, warplanes, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM’s). They serve on naval vessels that deploy to service ships and submarines of the operational fleet and on Coast Guard cutters operating off United States shores. They serve on missile crews, operate heavy equipment, and direct air traffic. They also provide essential support to combat troops in the field (Holm).
It appears that the United States military is in a position where women are so fully and flexibly involved in the organizational structure, that in a war, it would be very difficult to separate them out. Yet, there are those who feel those women are not physically and mentally capable of withstanding the effects of combat. There are many grounds on which this argument could be disputed, but women have contributed greatly in past wars. They have served in combat in many skills during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam (Holm).
One study (Binkin & Bach) found that many NATO and several WARSAW PACT countries employed women in combat roles during World War II. Russia was reported as using military women on the front lines. In Israel, where they are actually...