Pentagon lifts ban on women in combat


Alyssa Piecko

The Pentagon lifted parts of an age-old ban preventing women from participating in combat roles in the military Jan. 23. According to Pentagon spokesmen, this will enable up to 237,000 women to officially enter combat. This is no small subsection of the armed forces; the newly opened positions account for approximately 17 percent of the active men and women currently on active duty. Though the majority of the roles are located within the Army infantry, all five branches of the military are required to integrate women by May 15.
Women have already been unofficially serving in combat in the Middle Eastern theater of war, but the Pentagon’s decision will establish the women in official capacities. Authorities have stressed that there will be “gender-neutral standards.” Critics have raised concerns over whether women will be able to meet the grueling physical standards that are currently in place, which involve anything from repeatedly loading 55-pound tank shells to carrying 70-pound backpacks for prolonged periods of time.
There are both supporters and opponents of the new rules, but only over the purely physical requirements that combat roles require. Most can agree on one thing: bravery is not solely based on gender.

Bearing News asked students around RBHS:
1. Why do you think it took so long for the federal government to allow women in combat?
2. What are some negative or positive effects of having women in combat?
Sophomore Asa Spain
Sophomore Asa Spain
Asa Spain, sophomore
“Maybe just how they felt about them maybe not being good assets to the army, that they would just bring down the army more than helping them out.”
“I don’t see any negative affects … I really see no effect on it because there’s adding more people, and there’s always the chance of new ideas with other people”
Junior Casey Levy
Junior Casey Levy
It took so long “because we live in a sexist country, we still do. I don’t know, women were considered the people to protect, like women and children, over helping men, so we have this kind of view to protect women and children over strong, manly men.”
A negative is that “there’s that little friend that comes once a month. [A positive is] they bring different talents to [the army], and they bring diversity and more population to the army.”
Senior Christian Wahl
Christian Wahl, senior
It took so long “because of the condition of combat. Where as women, if they didn’t get proper hygiene, they wouldn’t be as combat effective because their morale was low. Women at the time didn’t really work as hard, and they couldn’t really lift their teammates out of combat if they were injured. Instead they tried to fix them there and that slowed them down. Also, men would stop in the middle of combat to try to save the woman’s life instead of doing their job and that didn’t make them as combat effective. The women would be used against the men if they were captured, and the enemy would rape the women to try to get information out of the men.”
A negative is “I think it could be used against the other soldiers, like I said, being raped, or the men tend to have more compassion towards women and stop and help the women as opposed to doing their job. [A positive] is that they can be good for moral for men, like nurses — they typically — men would try to be more tough for the women and try to heal faster.”
Junior Laramie Oxford
Junior Laramie Oxford
Laramie Oxford, junior
“My personal opinion is because that usually the men are supposed to protect the women, but I think that people finally realize … I’m happy for this because this is the way it should be. Just they aren’t really — it’s a new change, and they don’t know how people are going to react to it because they are like ‘Oh my God, they can’t do anything,’ but the fact is that we can do stuff.”
For “negative effects, I do know that sometimes men and women aren’t allowed to be on the same team in combat situations, so that’s kind of a negative effect, or equality issues and also because its kind of sexist in my opinion, and positive would be giving people a chance to prove they can be as tough.”
Junior Delaney Berg
Junior Delaney Berg
Delaney Berg, junior
“I have no idea, but maybe it had something to do with a lack of female citizens’ parts. I don’t really think it had much of a sexist aspect to it, so I’m largely ignorant.”
“I honestly don’t think there are any [negatives]. If a woman is able to serve, she is able to serve. Gender doesn’t matter at all. [A positive is a] larger military, obviously, and more diverse military, and it helps spread equality and make us a nation that lives up to the equality that we preach.”
Junior Carly Rohrer
Junior Carly Roher
It took so long “because we saw [women] as more fragile, as a more fragile sex and putting them in danger was kind of weird to us, and I guess the whole mother thing, they wanted children to have mothers.”
A negative is “if they have families at home they are going to lack that mother figure at home. [A positive is] I guess we could use all of us we can get, whoever wants to help out and serve their country is able to, so I feel like that [it] doesn’t really matter what sex you are, you’re passionate and patriotic about it, you’re able to do it.
By Alyssa Piecko
Additional reporting by Kaitlyn Marsh and Raj Satpathy
What is your view? Should women be allowed the same rights as men on the battlefield?