Women In Combat

A long overdue decision for the military

Liz Nelson, Staff Writer

When I was a child, I always took it upon myself to help others, and I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. After the continuous arguments of government representatives, veterans, and current service members, it was finally decided approximately two years ago that women would officially be allowed to serve their country within the combat and special forces occupational specialties. This order was way overdue.

In the armed forces, combat jobs are filled by male service members who are tasked with the responsibility of fighting in direct ground combat. Women have been allowed into non-combat specialties for years, such as electricians, parachute riggers, or human resource specialists. However, women have been caught up in situations before where they have been in combat and have performed just as effectively as the men.

For example, in the Marine Corps, there is a unit of females trained and ready for combat called the Female Engagement Team, or FET for short. Within the combat operations in Afghanistan, FETs would be attached to a male infantry or special operations unit. These females gather intelligence and speak with women, working with the Afghan culture and thus causing the mission to be more successful. The FETs are technically in a combat role, or enablers for a combat unit. They were essentially a test for women in combat.

Until January of 2015, women were not officially allowed to pursue jobs in special forces or combat due to the concern of women not being able to carry their loads. It is tough for anyone to bear a 60 pound pack and travel by foot, sometimes up to 15 or more miles, or to assume the responsibility of carrying a fellow service member out of combat. Women have proven that they can handle these conditions. The service members who have persevered through such adversity demonstrate the toughness of each person, men and women alike.

For example, in 2015, before the integration of women into the combat units had been officially approved, two female Army Soldiers had graduated from the three month Army Ranger School. Rangers are the Army’s premier raid force, constantly in combat. First Lieutenant Shaye Haver and Captain Kristin Griest had earned the Ranger tab, completing the school, all while adhering to the same standards set for the male soldiers. Their example demonstrates that women can accomplish training that has been previously closed to them and perform just as well.

It is essential that service members are proficient in their physical abilities to carry heavy loads out of a dangerous areas, because if one is not, it has the potential to cost lives.

On the other hand, some have brought up the valid concern about women adhering to the same standards set for each grueling special forces or combat role school. In that case, some have asked, how would the females be trusted to perform their duties in combat if they did not complete the same standards? Even given the fact that they both are adhering to the same standards, some are still skeptical. The command team of each school and the Department of Defense has guaranteed that each school’s standard will remain the same; just because a woman is attempting the school, it does not mean that they should have it handed to them.

As a result of that, I have always longed for a career in the military. I have always wanted to serve my country, defending my family and friends. Over the course of the last few months, it has become real to me. I am going to join the military this year, and I have countless opportunities because of the opening of all jobs to women. I did not have a clue that women were not allowed to serve in the average “travel on foot” and “go get the bad guys” type of job until recently. I was brought back with a feeling of surprise when it was announced that women had finally been allowed into combat and special forces jobs. I was filled with a feeling of determination to reach new heights and a new drive to do the best I can in every situation.

Women who are capable of completing all of the requirements without the standards lowered should have the opportunity to serve in a combat or special forces role. If there happens to be female service members who are qualified in every aspect for the job they are applying for, they should have a fair chance at being accepted into any type of job that they desire and work for. Now that the military has opened all combat roles to women across the services, there are more people to select from. This, in turn, keeps America more secure because of the increased number of new combat ready service members.