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  #1    
Old January 23rd, 2013 (03:27 PM).
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The Pentagon is lifting its ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after generations of limits on their service, defense officials said Wednesday.

The changes, set to be announced Thursday by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, will not happen overnight. The services must now develop plans for allowing women to seek the combat positions, a senior military official said. Some jobs may open as soon as this year, while assessments for others, such as special operations forces, including Navy SEALS and the Army's Delta Force, may take longer. The services also will have until January 2016 to make a case to that some positions should remain closed to women.

The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units.

Officials briefed The Associated Press on condition of anonymity so they could speak ahead of the official announcement.

There long has been opposition to putting women in combat, based on questions of whether they have the necessary strength and stamina for certain jobs, or whether their presence might hurt unit cohesion.

But as news of Panetta's expected order got out, members of Congress, including the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced their support.

"It reflects the reality of 21st century military operations," Levin said.

Panetta's move comes in his final weeks as Pentagon chief and just days after President Barack Obama's inaugural speech in which he spoke passionately about equal rights for all. The new order expands the department's action of nearly a year ago to open about 14,500 combat positions to women, nearly all of them in the Army. Panetta's decision could open more than 230,000 jobs, many in Army and Marine infantry units, to women.

In addition to questions of strength and performance, there also have been suggestions that the American public would not tolerate large numbers of women being killed in war.

Under the 1994 Pentagon policy, women were prohibited from being assigned to ground combat units below the brigade level. A brigade is roughly 3,500 troops split into several battalions of about 800 soldiers each. Historically, brigades were based farther from the front lines and they often included top command and support staff.

The necessities of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, propelled women into jobs as medics, military police and intelligence officers that were sometimes attached – but not formally assigned – to battalions. So while a woman couldn't be assigned as an infantryman in a battalion going out on patrol, she could fly the helicopter supporting the unit, or move in to provide medical aid if troops were injured.

And these conflicts, where battlefield lines are blurred and insurgents can lurk around every corner, have made it almost impossible to keep women clear of combat.

Still, as recent surveys and experiences have shown, it will not be an easy transition. When the Marine Corps sought women to go through its tough infantry course last year, two volunteered and both failed to complete the course. And there may not be a wide clamoring from women for the more intense, dangerous and difficult jobs – including some infantry and commando positions.

In the Navy, however, women have begun moving into the submarine force, with several officers already beginning to serve.

Two lawsuits were filed last year challenging the Pentagon's ban on women serving in combat, adding pressure on officials to overturn the policy. And the military services have been studying the issue and surveying their forces to determine how it may affect performance and morale.

The Joint Chiefs have been meeting regularly on the matter and they unanimously agreed to send the recommendation to Panetta earlier this month.

A senior military official familiar with the discussions said the chiefs concluded this was an opportunity to maximize women's service in the military. The official said the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps laid out three main principles to guide them as they move through the process:

_ That they were obligated to maintain America's effective fighting force.

_ That they would set up a process that would give all service members, men and women alike, the best chance to succeed.

_That they would preserve military readiness.

Part of the process, the official said, would allow time to get female service members in leadership and officer positions in some of the more difficult job classifications in order to help pave the way for female enlisted troops.

Women comprise about 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel. More than 280,000 women have been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan or to jobs in neighboring nations in support of the wars. Of the more than 6,600 who have been killed, 152 have been women.

The senior military official said the military chiefs must report back to Panetta with their initial implementation plans by May 15.

Changing the rules for a potential future draft would be a difficult proposition. The Supreme Court has ruled that because the Selective Service Act is aimed at creating a list of men who could be drafted for combat – and women are not in combat jobs – American women aren't required to register upon turning 18 as all males are.

If combat jobs open to women, Congress would have to decide what to do about that law.
Possibly a bit of a double edged sword? Should women be on the front lines, getting shot at and killed as well?

Discuss.
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Old January 23rd, 2013 (04:51 PM).
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As long as they are held to the same training standards as current soldiers, I see no reason to deny them this choice.
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Old January 23rd, 2013 (08:19 PM).
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The draft, as it currently stands, is discriminatory toward men and absolutely must be changed. If this is a step toward equalizing it, then I fully support it.
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Old January 23rd, 2013 (11:40 PM).
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A large number of other countries have already done this and they are fine. Equality is good. If you join the army, why shouldn't be allowed to fight? It's not like most of their combat work involves fighting with bayonets nowadays.
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Old January 24th, 2013 (01:34 AM).
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Good to see that the US is finally catching up to everyone else.
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Old January 24th, 2013 (10:00 AM).
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Well, good, I guess. I don't like discrimination, not that I like the military either, but hey, if someone wants to fight on the front lines they should be allowed if they're trained properly. Women are as capable as men to do this.

I really would like to see the draft changed. (Eliminated outright would be my preference.) It is discriminatory and doesn't make much sense with how wars are fought today.
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Old January 24th, 2013 (10:04 AM).
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Wait, I thought this already happened... that's pathetic. About time I suppose.
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Old January 24th, 2013 (02:18 PM).
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I thought that women already could serve in combat in the US, it's surprising to me that they couldnt already. I see this as a good thing. I think women as long as they are fully trained should serve in combat and protect our country.
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Old January 24th, 2013 (05:49 PM).
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Some opponents are stating that women on the front lines would be too distracting.

I immediately asked three questions:

- Since when have combat fatigues been even revealing, let alone attractive?


"Sexy" means this, right? Well, I guess Rule 36 could still apply.

- If they are revealing and/or attractive, who would be distracted? Us, the enemy, or both?
- If we were to suppose they were distracting to the enemy, that would be a bad thing....how exactly?
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Old February 1st, 2013 (07:15 PM).
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This is about 40 years overdue. Pathetic how they separate men and women in the military. I know in branches of the US military such as the Army Reserve (ROTC) there's differences everywhere.

For instance (and I'm recalling this from JROTC), womens' garrison caps are curved while mens' caps are square. Mens' uniforms (at least the old Army green Class As) have four pockets on them while womens' uniforms have curved seams in their place. And why do women get to have long hair normally but men have to keep it off of their ears and collar at all times?

This 'women serving in combat' is a baby step compared to the miles we have left in military equality.
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Old February 4th, 2013 (03:11 PM).
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In before:
"I thought women were at the back of the army making the sandwiches ?"

In reality, war is about death and killing. If a woman wants to go to the front line and be shot at and killed, then that's her choice.
Most men and woman who are capable and intellectual should NOT be sent to the front lines to be shot at and killed. If woman are such a distraction, they should be medics, pilots and be MORE useful than just a meat shield or an expendable body to just die.
The only argument you can make against women serving in the front lines of combat is the lack of strength (naturally given to males) and are they too soft for the "mindless aggression and killer instinct" that is needed for the heat of battle.
War and conflict is dangerous and you can commend anyone for going into a combat zone and preparing to do their duty to their country. Who needs equality when there is the saying "All is fair in love and war."
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Old February 4th, 2013 (05:49 PM).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renpuu View Post
In before:
"I thought women were at the back of the army making the sandwiches ?"

In reality, war is about death and killing. If a woman wants to go to the front line and be shot at and killed, then that's her choice.
Most men and woman who are capable and intellectual should NOT be sent to the front lines to be shot at and killed. If woman are such a distraction, they should be medics, pilots and be MORE useful than just a meat shield or an expendable body to just die.
The only argument you can make against women serving in the front lines of combat is the lack of strength (naturally given to males) and are they too soft for the "mindless aggression and killer instinct" that is needed for the heat of battle.
War and conflict is dangerous and you can commend anyone for going into a combat zone and preparing to do their duty to their country. Who needs equality when there is the saying "All is fair in love and war."
Well, it kind of sounds like you're saying women should have a choice to serve in combat... could you clarify?

Just as much as men don't have a choice to go if they're drafted, women shouldn't either, should they? Letting women serve in combat but excluding them from the draft is utterly pointless.
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Old February 4th, 2013 (07:11 PM).
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The best thing to do, to make this truly equal, is to also get rid of the Selective Service system, as it's now kind of redundant and also technically discriminatory.
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Old February 5th, 2013 (05:55 AM).
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America still has a draft system ? I thought they learnt their lesson after Vietnam that drafting doesn't work.
The UK use a Territorial Army system which people are trained in military services and only do 30-60 days service (kinda like army reserves) and go on with their regular day to day living. So most of them have a career or a job, then take 2 months out when called to help with British service.
People can chose careers in the British army from medics,drivers,logistics,computers/recon,pilots,army police, front-line trooper etc. You're not just told "oh hey be a meat-shield" unless you signed up for it.
There is no draft system in the UK and I think it would be stupid to have a draft unless World war 3 happened and most of the military had already been annihilated.
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Old February 23rd, 2013 (03:03 PM).
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Women have a right to fight. It's very patronizing to assume that women should not be allowed in combat.
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Old February 24th, 2013 (02:38 PM).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renpuu View Post
America still has a draft system ? I thought they learnt their lesson after Vietnam that drafting doesn't work.
The UK use a Territorial Army system which people are trained in military services and only do 30-60 days service (kinda like army reserves) and go on with their regular day to day living. So most of them have a career or a job, then take 2 months out when called to help with British service.
People can chose careers in the British army from medics,drivers,logistics,computers/recon,pilots,army police, front-line trooper etc. You're not just told "oh hey be a meat-shield" unless you signed up for it.
There is no draft system in the UK and I think it would be stupid to have a draft unless World war 3 happened and most of the military had already been annihilated.
It hasn't been employed since Vietnam, but it's still in place, and as it's set up now, it still only drafts males as soldiers if it's utilized. All of the current American military branches are 100% volunteer forces at present. At the very least, though, Selective Service should either be altered to include women or abolished entirely, and I'd personally rather see the latter.
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