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Lolita C. Baldor reports that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is lifting the ban that keeps women out of most military combat roles:
The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.
A source said chiefs of the military branches must report back to Panetta, or whoever follows him as secretary of defense, by May 15 with implementation plans. While some combat positions may be available to women in 2013, it may take longer for them to be allowed to seek positions in special operations units. All told, some 230,000 jobs could be opened to women by the move. Only 14,500 are available now.

While women serving in combat remains a controversial issue among many in the military and among right-wing politicians, experience in the field has been changing that. Particularly in situations where there are no front lines, women have found themselves in combat even when they weren't assigned to combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some officers have sent them into areas where it was clear they might wind up in firefights and, by all accounts, they acquitted themselves well when the shooting started.

Women combat pilots and other women flyers have already made a mark for themselves. In the earliest days of the war in Afghanistan, Capt. Allison Black navigated a AC-130H gunship and was literally calling the shots in a fight with the Taliban:

On a mission over the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz in 2001, one particularly fierce warlord, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum [a U.S. ally at the time], "found it amazing" that a woman was directing fire on the Taliban forces, says Black. "He thought it was so hilarious. He asked, 'Is that a woman?' " [...]

Then, as Black called in another round of fire, Dostum dialed [Taliban] fighters by phone, so they, too, could hear her voice on his walkie-talkie: "He really berated them, saying 'You're so pathetic, American women are killing you. You need to surrender now,' " Black says.

The ultimate decision was clear last July when Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said: "For me, I see it as talent management: I want to utilize the best talent I have. That's what has driven us to it: The women have proven it to us."

Now, if only we could engage in fewer wars for them and men in uniform to fight.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:58 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Would this allow women to enter (6+ / 0-)

    combat arms MOSes?  Or, would there still be restrictions on that?

    •  I would hope it does. (6+ / 0-)

      As it currently is, it's discrimination that's looked down on in every other American institution.

      •  This is the big issue for me. (4+ / 0-)

        I don't know if you realize this, but men are held to tougher physical standards than women in the military. I don't know exactly what's being proposed, but if they want women to serve in the infantry, that can't be allowed.

        There are certainly women who are fast and strong enough to meet the male PT standards, so IMO they should be allowed to serve in the infantry. But those that can't should not be let in, certainly not just because how people might look at it.

        I think with respect to body fat standards, you should cut women slack there because they simply have more fat than men, it would be unhealthy for them to try and meet male body fat standards. But as far as push up, sit up and timed run standards... well, they're called standards for a reason.

        You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

        by Eric Stratton on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:21:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are the standards relevant? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, Gordon20024, lcbo, cocinero

          Timed run, clearly, carrying a heavy pack, clearly.

          Though I know little about combat, I don't think it prominently features pushups.

          •  Pushups may be irrelevant (4+ / 0-)

            but the upper body strength to do an extended elbow crawl certainly isn't.

            Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

            by milkbone on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:35:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So test the elbow crawl. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              askew, DSPS owl

              Or at least something biomechanically similar to it.

              Pushups and pull-ups don't measure generic 'upper body strength' for women, if, in fact, there is any such thing. You can't count how many pushups a woman can do and guess how much weight she can carry or how long she can elbow-crawl or whether she can climb a rope or a wall. Nor can you watch her do any of those things and guess how many pushups she can do.

              The vast and overwhelming majority of healthy, fit women, including the ones successfully serving in non-combat-but-really-combat positions, can do 20-40 pushups and zero to maybe one pull-up. In other words, they fail the male PFT standards so badly that they'd never have made it out of boot camp, if they made it in in the first place. But they don't perform anywhere near that badly on realistic physical challenges. Most of them pass, and some men - men who met the PFT standards - fail.

              I know that's terribly inconvenient. But women are built differently, and so they approach real physical challenges differently. The PFT doesn't give you that option; there's one 'right' form for pushups and pull-ups, and it's the form designed to test men.

              "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

              by kyril on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:11:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  There are quite likely to actually be times (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Eric Stratton

                particularly in urban combat environments, where a soldier will have to pull themselves up and over a wall or pull themselves up using the hand-rail of a damaged stairwell, ect.

                It's relevant.

                If they start raising any of those standards just to exclude women, that's a problem.

                "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

                by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:42:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sure, it's relevant (0+ / 0-)

                  whether a soldier can pull herself up over an obstacle.

                  Watch a woman actually do that, though, and you'll see that her movements bear almost no resemblance to a pull-up or chin-up.

                  Pectoral and bicep strength might be good proxies for men's overall upper body capability, but they're all but irrelevant for women. If you want to know if a woman can climb over a wall, you want to know about her leg, core, and hand strength. Flexibility might be a plus too. Really, though, it's easiest just to see if she can climb over a wall. It's not like the military is short on obstacle courses.

                  "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

                  by kyril on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:28:55 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  The biggest factor in combat surviveability (8+ / 0-)

            is physical fitness. I heard the Army was going to revise the APFT because of the issue you raise... relevance. I got out last year so I only ever did it old school.

            The thing is, an imperfect standard is infinitely better than no standard. I think it's a good idea to revise the test, but whatever they have for men, that's what women need to do if they want that gig.

            There are women who can definitely do this, I served with plenty of women who were absolute PT studs. They tended to be among the more competent soldiers we had, and they should have been brought into combat arms. But they have to meet the standards, whatever they are.

            Again, I'm not talking anatomical differences like height and weight standards. I'm talking about getting from point A to B in X amount of time or moving a certain weight a certain distance. That's what counts.

            My final point in this discussion is that it's largely a myth that there's anything magical about combat arms. It actually is a shitty, thankless job. You can get way better pay and promotion opportunities in medical or intelligence related fields. No one is getting shafted by being left out of the infantry. There are those who prefer it, and they're borderline insane. The infantry, for most, is about the worst job in the Army.

            You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

            by Eric Stratton on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:44:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  pushups build UBS -- upper body strength (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW

            but they're not the only way to do it, or even the best way.

            Back in the '70s the Air Force overhauled its PT routines and included extra upper body strength building routines for females, specifically.

            They went from having nearly a 20% failure rate on the "confidence course" of first-attempts among females to having a <5% failure rate on first attempt.

            In fact they got it down to about a 2% difference, on first attempt, between male and female BMTS students, IIRC.

            Don't know what they're doing now. I hear USAF BMTS is much more "warrior oriented" now and includes a "hell week".

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:31:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  you said it (0+ / 0-)

            "Though I know little about combat, I don't think it prominently features pushups."

            And that should be the alpha and omega of your input.

            Here is the bottom line - NO test will cover all situations that come up in combat.  NONE.  

            What we have with the Army PT test is an imperfect beats but one that has served us well for a long time.  

            Pushups - Upper body
            Situps - Abdominal
            2 Mile Run - Cardiovascular

            I have taken hundreds of PT tests and administered hundreds more.  I have never seen a truly "in shape" person  - male or female - fail a PT test.  Never.  And I can count on one had the number of times I have seen someone who I looked at and said "no way they pass" actually get a passing score.  Its a good test.  Not a perfect one, but a good one.

            But combat is not a PT test.  Passing a PT test is not an entry into combat.

            It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

            by ksuwildkat on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:48:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  This comment started to annoy me, (11+ / 0-)

          but you clarified that as long as they meet the higher standards.

          It's the classic sexist patriarchal argument to go back to the "standards" stuff.

          Set the standards. Have the military people who do that stuff set them wherever they think soldiers need to be. And allow anyone who meets them, man or woman, to go forward.

          Anything less is sexist bullshit.

          As a male, I would not meet those standards. I've known women who probably or certainly would. Yet I'm already closer to being a soldier than any of them are.

          Bull. Shit.

        •  Younger people (0+ / 0-)

          are also held to tougher physical standards than older people. Also, the army changed their standards in 2011 (http://www.military.com/...). I'm not sure if you're referring to these new standards, but the Army says it is "gender neutral."

          "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

          by randomfacts on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:43:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I heard that... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW

            I got out in 2012 and still took the old test. If they really did make it gender neutral, well it's about damn time.

            I always thought the old standards were too hard on some and too easy on others, because they were just not very good metrics in general. All I was saying is that the standards need to be the same for everyone, especially in combat jobs.

            You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

            by Eric Stratton on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:46:43 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  upper-body strength (5+ / 0-)

              Taliban forces did surrender the next morning, and the first female navigator to open fire in combat came to be known as the "Angel of Death" among the Afghans. That battle – and others – also made Black, now a major, the first woman to earn the Air Force's combat action medal.

              Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ "We're like a strip club with a million bouncers and no strippers." (HBO's Real Time, January 18, 2013)

              by annieli on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:51:22 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  When they talk about combat... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JesseCW

                billets, this is not what they are referring to.

                "[I]n the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone...They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand."

                by cardboardurinal on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:20:35 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Here is an article (0+ / 0-)

            http://www.armytimes.com/...
            It looks like there are still different scoring scales on gender, but the test itself has gotten tougher, more focus on upper body strength and is closer to actual combat situations.

            "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

            by randomfacts on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:48:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  no (0+ / 0-)

              It didnt get tougher, it has STARTED moving back to the way things were.

              In the past the toughest standard was the one for the youngest service members.  But too many soldiers were failing PT tests when they were young so instead of fixing soldiers we fixed the test.  We have SLOWLY started to go back the other way.

              Who ever said the test was "gender neutral" is wrong.  There are TWO tests - Male and Female.

              It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

              by ksuwildkat on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:08:05 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  my 2 cents (10+ / 0-)

            The same concerns of standards and ability to drag out a wounded comrade, courage, etc. was brought up when fire departments started bringing women onto the department.  Some areas had separate standards, others modified them in general.  What eventually happened was many departments created task based standards that were timed. For example a test would include pulling 200 feet of 2.5 inch hose that is streched out (for maxium friction on the ground), carrying a hose bale (approximately 60 pounds) up 3 stories (using stairs safely) with full protective gear (add approximately 50 pounds), at the top pull up another 1 or 2 hose bales using a rope), raise and lower an extension ladder, carry a hose bale through an obstacle course (including climbing a wall), using a sledge hammer to move a heavy metal block across the floor a certain distance, and other tasks within 10 minutes.   Many women had to complete the same test with the same results to get considered and eventually hired.  In my short time in the fire department I have had several women supervisors who did excellent jobs in stressful situations.  I had no problem doing my job with them and knowing they had my back if things went wrong.  

            There have been women in the fire departments for years and I know that several major cities (I think LA City and / or San Francisco have a woman Chief of the Department).  This is considering that  fire departments can be as bad as, if not worse than the millitary, in male dominant thinking.  As a sign seen in the background of a firehouse scene in the movie Backdraft stated "150 years of service unimpeded by progress".
             

            Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

            by SQD35R on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:11:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Task based standards are the way to go (8+ / 0-)

              Hiring of women went up dramatically when those were put in place in fore departments. A lot of women who don't look good on a pull-up bar look great hauling hose and carrying dummies. Better than a lot of men with higher PFT scores.

              The thing is that real tasks allow women to adapt their approach to their own biomechanical strengths. There's more than one way to exert a force with your arms, and not all of them involve brute-forcing it with your pecs.

              "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

              by kyril on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:18:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Just for reference... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                randomfacts, CJ WIHorse

                The Canadian Forces have allowed women into all combat roles, infantry included, for years, and women demonstrated they could do the job in combat in Afghanistan where our troops were for over a decade.

                Just like they proved being gay had no effect on combat effectiveness.

                So once again, what? Is someone claiming that Americans are incapable of doing something their neighbours to the north can yet one more time?

        •  Are you old enough to remember (19+ / 0-)

          when we went through this in the civilian world, in the 70s, when the categories, "Help Wanted - Male" and "Help Wanted - Female" went away?

          The point made at the time was, gender was being used to stand in for whatever the actual qualifications for a job were. If someone needs to carry 100 pounds to do a job properly, then make that the test for the job, rather than say that only men may apply. Gender itself was found by courts to be an actual BFOQ, or "Bona Fide Occupational Qualification" for a very few jobs (including sperm donor and wet nurse).

          There were certainly people at the time worrying that unqualified cops and firefighters and so on would "have to be" hired, but in fact, it just forced employers to consider what was really needed to do a job and look for that. I think that the armed services, more than possibly any other organization, has a good handle on what each of their jobs requires. I think they can deal with this. You yourself demonstrate that combat jobs should be open for women to apply for when you say

          There are certainly women who are fast and strong enough to meet the male PT standards, so IMO they should be allowed to serve in the infantry. But those that can't should not be let in
          Open for women to apply for is what we're talking about here, not women can stroll in and claim any job they like. I don't think the military lets anyone do that, nor should they.

          •  Yes, yes, yes. I remember when the issue of... (8+ / 0-)

            ....women firefighters came up in the city of Boulder. There were a lot of people who said they couldn't handle it (plus BS about sleeping in the fire station and restrooms, yada, yada. But the they-can't-do-it talk flew in the face of the fact that the majority, more than 75 percent of volunteer firefighters in county when they surveyed them, were women. Much of this was mountain terrain and they were widely respected. Some of them had biceps that put mine to shame at a time when mine were ample.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:10:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  'Zactly. This is the same shit with a different (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            belinda ridgewood

            coat of paint.

            The idiots won't get it. The rest of us will. The world will move on, and hundreds of years from now kids in school will laugh at and deride the backwards people from the dumb-dumb ages who banned people from combat for being female.

            And we will deserve to be laughed at.

        •  This is a big issue for me too. (5+ / 0-)

          I don't know if you realize this, Eric, but today's women are held to much tougher physical standards than male soldiers in WWII. And those soldiers did just fine in combat.

          It is really, at bottom, a question of putting people where their ability can take them. For you, that means women have to be physically identical to men. For me and many others, it means that women must be physically able to participate in combat. They are.

          Women have fought, with or without sanction, in every recorded war, including current wars where they're not "allowed" to fight. (As if they're not going to defend themselves and their comrades.) They've done well, and there is no reason to hold up this magical "but they're not men" ideal--you don't have to be a man to be a good combat soldier.

          I'm amazed by people's courage and kindness in the face of everything and life.

          by LaraJones on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:24:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  falses equivlance (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eric Stratton

            We were sending those guys over to die.  Ill be the first to admit that I probably would not hold up to the WWII standards for PT.  Not PT test, but the PT they did.  

            We had VERY low standards for entry and staying in the military in WWII.  The standard for staying alive and surviving was a bit higher.

            It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

            by ksuwildkat on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:12:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  250k US soldiers died in WWII and 58k in Vietnam. (0+ / 0-)

            Right now the combined total for Iraq and Afghanistan is around 10k. That's progress. We're going in the right direction, we do NOT want to go back to the old way of doing things.

            You can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.

            by Eric Stratton on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 02:56:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Physically challenging jobs (0+ / 0-)

          Already have a single standard. Navy EOD, Air Force SERE Specialists, all have single standards, and they didn't make them any easier. And those are, to my knowledge, the most physically demanding jobs available to women in the military.

          You need a license to drive, a license to run a business, but any idiot can buy a gun.

          by Hannibal on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:00:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  uh oh (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, lcbo

    something tells me red dawn iii is on its way...

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:03:12 PM PST

  •  About fucking time. (10+ / 0-)

    I know so many women who are way more bad ass than me. Also their empathy quotient is higher (slightly) so they are a better fit for it if you ask me.

    Lo que separa la civilizacion de la anarquia son solo siete comidas.

    by psilocynic on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:03:28 PM PST

    •  Higher empathy, and pain tolerance (on average) (5+ / 0-)

      Different studies of different kinds of pain give different answers. It's all averages of course, but women seem to tolerate pain better (enduring and functioning during painful stimulus), a difference which seems like it must be inborn. Women have been birthing big-headed babies before

      Women also seem, on average, to show more empathy. In fact, the difference seems to include other forms of emotional intelligence. Whether there's a cultural or genetic basis, emotional intelligence seems like a crucial skill for finding allies and evaluating threats in counter-insurgency situations. Their record seems to agree:

      Particularly in situations where there are no front lines, women have found themselves in combat even when they weren't assigned to combat units ... by all accounts, they acquitted themselves well when the shooting started.
      Whatever myths and traditions we've gotten used to, we have to accept this argument, that it's a modern workplace and it has to hire like one:
      Lolita C. Baldor reports ...
      ... Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.
      This can't be encouraging news to those who just found out that, up to this point, they've only been fighting half of us.

      Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

      by chimpy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:49:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh noes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zenox, chimpy

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:04:03 PM PST

  •  and so. . . (7+ / 0-)

    it's about time. There are women out there wearing the uniform that want to do this, and can take on the role, so why not? Israelis have been doing this for centuries. . .the men fighting alongside the women. And I don't even think women combat soldiers are asking for any special consideration. They just want to flight and there's nothing wrong with fighting if men also like to fight. Of course, in a perfect world. . . Anyway, smart move by Mr. P if the final okay is given.

    Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

    by richholtzin on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:04:38 PM PST

  •  First blacks, then gays, now women (23+ / 0-)

    What next, the sons and daughters of prominent Republican chickenhawks?

    Nah, that would go against god's teachings.

    Good and just move, btw. If we're going to fight, then WE need to fight, and last time I checked that included the majority gender.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:05:29 PM PST

  •  Via CNN... sigh. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RUKind
    It is a marked difference from the way the military ended the exclusion of gays serving openly, or “don’t ask don’t tell.” In that case, there were no stipulations attached to openly gay service members. There was no staggered approach that integrated openly gay troops into units. It was instead done all at once, across the board.

    A senior Defense official explained the Pentagon’s reasoning behind the different approach: “You’re talking about personal choice of behavior vs. physical capability. And they were already in the units. If you take a unit that’s never had women before, that’s quite a culture change.”

    Nice to see that DoD still thinks that being gay is a personal choice.
  •  Women get to get killed and maimed now too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Azazello

    happy day

  •  Men have been (0+ / 0-)

    fighting and dying "for America" for the past two hundred years, let the women do it for the next two hundred.

    Maybe that will get it to stop . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:11:30 PM PST

  •  Obama is overturning a lot of Bill Clinton B.S. (11+ / 0-)

    from DOMA to DADT now banning women from combat roles.

    20 years later things have really changed.

    President Obama, January 9, 2012: "Change is hard, but it is possible. I've Seen it. I've Lived it."

    by Drdemocrat on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:12:48 PM PST

  •  Anybody Else Remember Bill Murray on SNL? (5+ / 0-)

    To give you an idea of how long we've been talking about this, it would have been between 1977 and 1980.

    On his weekend update bit he editorializes, "I say let women fight. What's the worst that could happen? If they win, great. If they lose, we can say, 'Big deal, so you big bad Russians beat a bunch of girls!"

     

  •  I saw a woman today (0+ / 0-)
    “Moreover, in a hundred years, I thought, reaching my own doorstep, women will have ceased to be the protected sex. Logically they will take part in all the activities and exertions that were once denied them. The nursemaid will heave coal. The shop-woman will drive an engine. All assumptions founded on the facts observed when women were the protected sex will have disappeared -- as, for example (here a squad of soldiers marched down the street), that women and clergymen and gardeners live longer than other people. Remove that protection, expose them to the same exertions and activities, make them soldiers and sailors and engine-drivers and dock labourers, and will not women die off so much younger, so much quicker, than men that one will say, “I saw a woman today,” as one used to say, “I saw an aeroplane.”

    - Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

  •  hooah (7+ / 0-)
    Then, as Black called in another round of fire, Dostum dialed [Taliban] fighters by phone, so they, too, could hear her voice on his walkie-talkie: "He really berated them, saying 'You're so pathetic, American women are killing you. You need to surrender now,' " Black says.

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ "We're like a strip club with a million bouncers and no strippers." (HBO's Real Time, January 18, 2013)

    by annieli on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:14:21 PM PST

  •  Will women also be subject to draft duty? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hyuga, JesseCW

    Or will that still continue to be men only?

  •  I am a horrible sexist. (5+ / 0-)

    The problem with women in foxholes, in groundpounder infantry combat roles, is not the women, or their capabilities.
    Not at all.
    The problem is MEN.
    I worry that men will instinctively overprotect the females in firefights and that could create problems.
    Men can't help themselves. It's how we are.

    "Everything I do is blown out of proportion. It really hurts my feelings." - Paris Hilton

    by kestrel9000 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:18:00 PM PST

  •  so do girls now have to register (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKDAWUSS, Crazycab214, Hyuga, JesseCW

    for the selected services? and be eligible for a draft?

    Exclusive Family Friendly PC Games to Give, Play and Share for Free. ProjectReindeerGames.org

    by MrBigDaddy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:18:38 PM PST

  •  Women Warriors come to America (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright

    following a long line of History.  Among many, the women of Sparta, The Amazons can now welcome 21st century American Military Women to the fold.  

    Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up...East Wing Rules

    by Pithy Cherub on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:20:24 PM PST

  •  Perhaps their residual sexism will work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dogs are fuzzy, Eyesbright

    against the hawks and they will be reluctant to commit troops to combat when women are among them.

    I believe some leaders find it all too easy to employ our servicemen and servicewomen for other than crucial needs. Corporate adventurism springs to mind.

    Maybe with women among the troops, they will do so with a greater reluctance. Maybe the women's very presence as warriors will save lives that way.

    When blood is cheaper than oil, too many are willing to spill the former for the latter. Perhaps the price of blood is going up.

    I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it. - Paul Krugman

    by Gentle Giant on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:21:37 PM PST

  •  Well this didn't take long. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, Eyesbright

    God be with you, Occupiers. God IS with you.

    by Hohenzollern on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:23:21 PM PST

    •  except it didn't start in '94 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hohenzollern

      it was in effect well before that -- in the 1970s I had a contract for a guaranteed  job as a volunteer and it was abrogated after basic because it was "a combat AFSC -- we can't let a female have that job."

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:44:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Women warriors (4+ / 0-)

    This is nothing new. The patriarchal civilization (!) of the Western lore almost succeeded erasing thousands years of history of women warriors. It is time to re earth the past.
    I had a paternal grandmother for example. A landowner' s only daughter living in Eastern Turkey during early 20th century, she was known to wear pants, ride horses, shoot rifles, settle disputes and kick asses whenever the occasion required. Her name was Miriam. I think I inherited a thing or two from her...lol...may she rest in peace.

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:25:30 PM PST

  •  The Implications For Selective Service? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, schnecke21

    This is a bit of a technical question, but I wonder...

    If women are being treated as equals when it comes to combat operations (or any other military roles), could this ultimately mean women will have the same selective service (i.e. draft) obligations as men, like having to go to the post office & register at 18?

    I haven't googled it yet, but I'm going to guess those rules are governed by an Act of Congress, and would need their assent to be changed & can't be done by the Executive Branch alone.

  •  Also filed under 'well this didn't take long'... (8+ / 0-)

    http://www.dennyburk.com/...

    How long did it take this guy, maybe an hour tops?

    What kind of a society puts its women on the front lines to risk what only men should be called on to risk? In countries ravaged by war, we consider it a tragedy when the battle comes to the backyards of women and children. Why would we thrust our own wives and daughters into that horror? Perhaps this move makes sense to some with an all volunteer force, but what if the draft is ever reinstituted? Are we really going to be the kind of people who press wives and daughters to fight in combat?

    I cannot improve upon John Piper‘s 2007 article for World magazine in which he writes:

    If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women.
    I guess it's his job...sort of.
    I am an Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.

    “Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: 'More guns,' you’ll claim, 'are the NRA’s answer to everything!'" -- Wayne LaPierre

    by tytalus on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:32:58 PM PST

  •  About time! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Progressif, BlackSheep1

    Another major sexism barrier destroyed.

    And this was horrible, and too often ignored.

    A woman could meet the physical and mental standards of an infantry soldier, and be denied simply because she's a woman.

    That is the dictionary definition of sexism.

  •  As indicated in the story, it's great for messing (4+ / 0-)

    with the morale of enemy combatants from really backwards cultures. "You guys are such wimps that our girls can beat you up!" LOL!

    Just kidding. Everything I've heard about women in combat indicates that they are every bit as capable as men. This move really is long overdue.

    If there is no accountability for those who authorized torture, we can no longer say that we are a nation of laws, not men.

    by MikePhoenix on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:35:25 PM PST

  •  Great, now they can waste more female lives like (0+ / 0-)

    they have done with men.  Hmm, now someone can sue Blackstone, or whatever that mercenary company is, for sex discrimination, why they don't hire women for combat roles (or do they ?).

  •  It does make me wonder about the (0+ / 0-)

    treatment of prisoners by our enemies.

    I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it. - Paul Krugman

    by Gentle Giant on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:40:23 PM PST

    •  You should have wondered about that before. (4+ / 0-)

      It's not a picnic for the men, nor are they not sexually abused/raped/humiliated.

      "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness" -Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

      by Jacoby Jonze on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:54:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  and trust me it's worse now than before Abu Ghraib (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deward Hastings, Gentle Giant

        our people will be treated as we were seen to treat "enemy combatants."

        The policy change that caused us to redefine POWs marks us as a savage and renegade nation.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:47:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  What about the women (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1, Gentle Giant

      of the French Resistance and the British women who parachuted in to enemy territory during WWII?

    •  US women have become POWs for over 80 years. (3+ / 0-)

      So you wondered about the combat role most likely to result in being a POW, right?   Fighter pilots ring a bell.

      If Israeli women can be in combat roles with the potential enemy being some very nasty people.  See -- Syria.  

      Then the US can handle it just fine.

      The amount of sexism on this thread is embarrassing.  

      •  I was thinking more along the lines (0+ / 0-)

        of the status of women in our "enemies'" own societies and how that might equate to how female prisoners would be viewed by enemies from those cultures.

        The Geneva Conventions should never have been violated or put at risk. Yes, there has always been abuse in some quarters, but now there is little reason for restraint.

        That isn't a sexist viewpoint. The reality is genders are viewed differently in cultures around the globe. Ignoring that in the name of not being sexist would be a mistake.

        I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it. - Paul Krugman

        by Gentle Giant on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:27:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  "The amount of sexism on this thread is (0+ / 0-)

        embarrassing."

        Well said.

        Fast forward a couple hundred years in the future where people will look back at some the "manly-men" knuckledraggers who complain about this shit and they will be rightly looked down upon as the disgusting neanderthals they are.

        I really wish I had been born 500 years from now. Human society is still so primitive and sad.

        And it improves so, so slowly.

  •  Fine by me, as long as they are held to (0+ / 0-)

    the same physical standards as men.  A lot of combat- related stuff requires good upper body strength, such as dragging a wounded comrade into cover.  

    •  um...no (0+ / 0-)

      women are subject to attack now.  In fact the whole "dragging a comrade" happens almost as much with "non-combat" positions as the "combat" ones.  

      Physical standards are not the issue.  

      It really comes down to life support time tings.  A Combat Outpost (COP) is tiny - 100-200m long on each side.  Space is at a premium and things like Ammunition and communications have more priority that separate facilities for males and females.  

      But the real elephant in the room is small group dynamics.  Introducing women into a small group like that will create havoc.  At the battalion or Brigade level the population is large enough that you can mitigate issues.  

      My team in Afghanistan was 10 people.  5 Military, 2 contractors and 3 interpreters.  All male.  We lived on a large camp with lots of females but we "worked" from our trucks.  10 guys filling 10 spaces in two HMMWVs.  We ate 90% of our meals together and spent 90% of our time together.  No way having a woman would have worked.  Not.  A. Chance.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:00:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  rapes (0+ / 0-)

    I live near Camp Lejeune--the number of rapes is disgusting.  In combat, one has to assume this will become more common-- also--how will women POWs be treated?

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 01:50:58 PM PST

    •  women POWs? they'll most likely be raped (0+ / 0-)
      •  You know something? (5+ / 0-)

        Women in all walks of life get raped every day. You don't have to be in combat, the military, or a pow.

        Women are also thinking beings who are not and who understand what the risks are if they choose, and can be successful, in combat roles. Because that choice makes men uncomfortable, too bad. I find it infuriating that we constantly get the "oh, women will be raped" as an excuse to not allow women an equal shot at a job they wish to have. If the women applying for these combat positions are okay with the potential risks, that is all that is relevant.

        Men really, really need to suck it up and quit treating women like they are fragile creatures who need protection from their own decisions.

        "No one has the right to spend their life without being offended." Philip Pullman

        by zaynabou on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:21:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  that was supposed to be (0+ / 0-)

          "are not stupid"

          "No one has the right to spend their life without being offended." Philip Pullman

          by zaynabou on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:21:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  infuriating (0+ / 0-)

          Ignoring fact--ignoring numbers--is so Republican.  There will be rapes--unless we have gender separation of combat troops.  Ugly truth--Camp Lejeune has many soldier to soldier rapes--as well as sexual harassment.  This needs to be stopped--but ignoring this truth is so infuriating.

          Apres Bush, le deluge.

          by melvynny on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:41:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am not ignoring numbers (0+ / 0-)

            I sat through the Senate hearings on sexual assault in the military several years ago. But keeping women out of combat, rather than teaching men that raping IS NOT OKAY OR ACCEPTABLE, is another kind of blaming the victim. What needs to happen is not keeping women out of military, or out of certain positions in the military, but to change the culture that says that sexual harassment and assault is tolerated. Men who are not rapists will not rape, whether they are in a combat situation or not. Men who are rapists do rape, and the situation does not matter. Perhaps we need to look at who is joining the military, and why this behavior is tolerated.

            "No one has the right to spend their life without being offended." Philip Pullman

            by zaynabou on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:19:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  we disagree (0+ / 0-)

              The military teaches aggression--combat situations often make "heroes" of murder--a great recipe to get the lowest form of beast like behavior.  Changing culture is a great ideal--but hasn't happened yet.  Ignoring this fact, to further equality, is wrong for my daughter--and for yours.  Since women will now also be drafted, it isn't by choice that they expose themselves to increased odds of getting raped--or sexually harassed by an officer with temporary omnipotence and the power of combat assignment.

              Apres Bush, le deluge.

              by melvynny on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 05:14:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  There's been a long history of male pow's getting (0+ / 0-)

        raped.

        That doesn't seem to have stopped people from playing these bloody games.

        "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

        by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:55:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  as in contrast to the total (0+ / 0-)

        non rape-ening of male POWs, riiiiiggghhhhttt. Don't get me wrong, it's just that being, becoming, a POW is generally not going to go well for you regardless of what you are before the fact. Unless you have red hair. I hear that red heads are scarry.

  •  I'll take Private Vasquez over (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, zaynabou, tytalus, Senor Frog

    Private Hudson any day.

  •  This will allow more brave women (0+ / 0-)

    to die or be raped so rich people and their brats won't have to serve in combat.

  •  good. as long as there are no quotas (0+ / 0-)

    Set the standards for each MOS, and whoever certifies should be able to fill that position.

    But do not set diversity quotas or goals.

  •  So do we get rid of the Selective Service (0+ / 0-)

    or do we require women to register?

    The last argument for that double standard just went down in flames.

    "I have often seen people uncivil by too much civility, and tiresome in their courtesy." Michel de Montaigne

    by JesseCW on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:39:45 PM PST

  •  There is something about this that speaks to me (0+ / 0-)

    on a different level.

     There is something more profound here. It seems, to me, that we really need to look at what is being said here about everything, not just the role of women in the military, or the role(s, sic) of women anywhere, or even roles for that matter.

    It is about looking at what we do, today, in the context of what we did yesterday, thirty years ago, fifty years ago. How is it that this thing, this way of asking ourselves, “Is this relevant anymore?”  is so often overlooked, but so subtle in all of our arguments.

    Do guns matter today in the way they did one hundred years ago?

    Are we teaching children the things they need to know, today, or are we teaching them what they needed to know fifty years ago?

    Are we allowing people who work at desks the opportunity to be productive, today, based on what matters, TODAY, or based on what we think was the right way to treat this kind of employee thirty years ago? Do we even understand what is relevant about “Working” at a desk anymore?

    Do we have the courage to challenge everything we think is relevant, and discover what we have the potential to become?

  •  Ultimately the ban was silly because (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ngdoms

    just as a matter of statistics, the vast majority of female soldiers don't seek combat roles, and most of those who have tried to undertake the training for dedicated combat missions on an experimental basis are physically not able to complete it (physiology ain't fair, but it is real).  All the ban did was stop the relative handful who would seek it and would pass the training from contributing to their full potential, which is stupid and pointless.  

    Pour yourself into the future.

    by Troubadour on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:05:21 PM PST

    •  in the end its about about effectiveness (0+ / 0-)

      a male soldier who cant cut it physically also gets booted out the units, the only thing these units know is kill kill kill. So honestly lets not sit here and pretend make accommodations is actually going to effective. if the woman can pass the tests, let her in and everyone else should just stfu, if she cant, just like any other crappy soldier, you get the boot, end of story.

  •  Combat roles (0+ / 0-)

    In our mind, we may immediately see a female in an infantry squad under this “women in combat” rule change. That may very well be, but there are many more “combat” roles than front line “Fire, duck and cover” work. It is not necessarily what you do, but where you can do it, and in the past, women were barred from, for instance, operating a forklift at a forward operating base, loading C-130s and C-117s at breakneck speed, so that the aircraft had minimum time on the ground, as they are attractive to shoulder launched missiles and ground fire.. The rules then stated that a combat zone was not a place for a woman soldier or airman. In some cases, these new rules may be “old news” to some female soldiers. The Army has women pararescue folks on helicopters in our current conflicts. And those helicopters crash, get shot at, as do the crews.  In combat zones.  Women are flying fighters, tankers, and I think bombers these days. I doubt that either the males or females who do this work got the job because someone adjusted standards. Admittedly, my impressions are dated, and hopefully someone with current experience can better explain.

  •  Delurking to congratulate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prinny Squad

    women nationwide on this long-overdue decision. Another step in the march toward full legal equality!

  •  Damn, if some of the posters on (0+ / 0-)

    Daily Kos are being sexist morons about this, I'd better not look at the Huffington Post comments. I'll have a rage-stroke.

  •  i think some people (0+ / 0-)

    should know what the standard is now before they go talking about anything.

    Combat work has nothing to do with promotions, if it did then every dumb grunt who went to iraq 3 or 4 times and got a combat action badge would be a general by now. as it stands, no woman is passed over for promotion in say: the transportation corps because she doesnt have a CAB or because she wasnt in an infantry unit. Thats just silly. There are plenty of reasons to support this without making up bullshit.

    I look forward to more integration because I think more of our male soldiers NEED to deal with women on a day to day basis to keep them sane.

    I have no  problem sending women to any type of unit that can support them, as long as everyone is held to the same standard then why not. Anyone here who is suggesting a more elaborate test than just simply push ups, sit ups, pull ups or run is kidding themselves...where do you think the army is going to find the money for that with the cuts coming? We want them to cut their budget but then tell them to research and buy all new equipment for a new pt test...some of you are just living in a dream world.

    There is a reason the pt test is just push ups, sit ups and a 2 mile run: its easy and you can do it anywhere. anything else requires resources the army currently does not have, requiring a lot of money that they will not have. So lets just keep it simple stupid and figure out a way that doesnt require people having to build whole new obstacles on every base in the country.

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