Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pentagon to Remove Ban on Women in Combat

In recognition of the roles that women have already been playing in the fool's errand armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan launched by Chimperator George W. Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney, the Pentagon is poised to remove the ban in women in combat positions.  The ban is a recognition of reality and will remove the barrier that has barred women from full recognition for their valor and kept many from advancing up the ranks of the military.  One can just imagine the shrieks of Phyllis Schlafly and Christofascists who want women kept as subordinate chattel in the home - bare foot and pregnant if you will.  Obviously, I do not believe that all women should be required to go into combat positions, but those who want them should not be held back.  The Washington Post looks at the policy change:

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta plans to announce Thursday a lifting of the ban on female service members in combat roles, a watershed policy change that was informed by women’s valor in Iraq and Afghanistan and that removes the remaining barrier to a fully inclusive military, defense officials said.

Panetta made the decision “upon the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” a senior defense official said Wednesday, an assertion that stunned female veteran activists who said they assumed that the brass was still uneasy about opening the most physically arduous positions to women. The Army and the Marines, which make up the bulk of the military’s ground combat force, will present plans to open most jobs to women by May 15.

“The onus is going to be on them to justify why a woman can’t serve in a particular role,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plan before the official announcement.

The decision comes after a decade of counterinsurgency missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, where women demonstrated heroism on battlefields with no front lines. It dovetails with another seismic policy change in the military that has been implemented relatively smoothly: the repeal of the ban on openly gay service members.

Lawmakers and female veterans applauded Wednesday’s news, saying the ban on women in combat roles is obsolete.  “This is monumental,” said Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine captain and executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network, which has advocated for the full inclusion of women. “Every time equality is recognized and meritocracy is enforced, it helps everyone, and it will help professionalize the force.”

Advocates and experts say women are unlikely to flock to those positions, such as roles in light infantry and tank units and Special Forces — although some may. More substantively, they say, lifting the ban will go a long way toward changing the culture of a male-dominated institution in which women have long complained about discrimination and a high incidence of sexual assault.

“The reality is that so many women have been, in effect, in combat or quasi-combat,” he said. “This is catching up with reality.”

In a statement, Sen. James M. Inhofe (Okla.), the leading Republican on the Armed Services Committee, voiced a measure of concern, saying last year’s study raised “serious practical barriers” that, if ignored, could jeopardize the “safety and privacy” of service members.

James Inhofe - a Christianist who never can separate his bigoted religious views from public policy - not surprisingly raised to bogus issue of  service member "privacy" as a reason to keep women inferior.

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