On January 24, 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the current administration would end the Pentagon’s policy banning women from combat roles thus allowing women to be placed in positions with more direct exposure to combat with enemy forces. Women serving in the armed forces are currently not allowed to serve in units that are “tasked with direct combat.

The Marine Corps has acknowledged that women have ended up on the front lines of combat in more recent modern conflicts such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women that have served in supply units and military police units are often those women who experience combat on the front lines with the Marines. In fact, there have been over 150 instances where brave women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in support roles.

While the Marine Corps has acknowledged the role that women have played in various conflicts, some infantry unit members are skeptical of how women would perform in these traditionally male only units and are worried that these positions, which will be open to women, may close if women cannot meet the physical demands of combat. Male and women Marines surveyed also have concerns about sexual harassment and the risk that women would be targets of the enemy, possibly becoming POWs.

In spite of this skepticism, numerous women in military service argue that they are mentally and physically just as capable as men are to perform in combat roles. Some women in the armed forces have raised the fact that they already serve in combat roles but they are not recognized for it and lack the proper training that men service members receive before entering combat zones.

Clearly controversies are going to continue to arise over the decision allowing women to be placed in combat units and other branches of the military will likely express their support and concerns over the recent policy change.

« »