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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Defense chief Panetta to clear women for combat roles

Posted by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:40 PM
  • 29 Replies

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to clear the way for women to serve in many combat positions in the U.S. armed forces, a senior defense official told NBC News on Wednesday afternoon.


The Pentagon chief will announce on Thursday that he is eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion — the Department of Defense policy that excluded women from assignment to units below the brigade level if the unit would be engaged in direct combat.

This will allow women to be assigned to select positions in ground combat units at the battalion level, opening approximately 237,000 individual jobs to women across service branches, including 5,000 positions for female Marines in ground combat elements.

"I support it. It reflects the reality of 21st century military operations," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in anticipation of the announcement. 

"We are moving in the direction of women as infantry soldiers," one senior defense official said. 

Longstanding opponents of lifting the ban on women in combat lambasted the move as a show of "political correctness."

"The point of the military is to protect our country," said Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, a conservative lobbying group. "Anything that distracts from that is detrimental. Our military cannot continue to choose social experimentation and political correctness over combat readiness. While this decision is not unexpected from this administration, it is still disappointing."

Panetta, who is expected to leave his position as Defense Secretary in February, will call on the military services to study whether it is possible to open all jobs to women, and the services must come back with their individual plans and recommendations by May 15, a senior defense official said.  He will call for all changes to be in place, and women serving in the new roles by Jan. 1, 2016. 

But a senior defense official who spoke to NBC News said they expect exceptions to remain. Elite Special Operations positions in Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, and Delta Force were likely to remain closed to women, the official said, while the Army is likely to open up jobs for female pilots in the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. 

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called the decision "historic."

"In fact, it's important to remember that in recent wars that lacked any true front lines, thousands of women already spent their days in combat situations serving side-by-side with their fellow male servicemembers," said Murray, who heads the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

In November, a group of women in the military and the non-profit American Civil Liberties Union sued the Pentagon over the policy of excluding women from combat roles. Their complaint argued that they were already serving in combat roles, but not getting recognized for it.

So far, 152 women have died while deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and at least 958 have been wounded in action. 

"This is really the implementation of a policy that has been a reality for women for years," one senior defense official said.

According to the most recent Defense numbers, there are 1.4 million active duty members of the military, and nearly 15 percent of them are women. 

This new military-wide rule — distinct from a law — will replace the 1994 policy memo barring women in combat roles, which was signed by then-Secretary Les Aspin.

NBC News correspondent Kelly O'Donnell and NBC staff writer Kari Huus and The Associated Press contributed to this report

by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:40 PM
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Replies (1-10):
mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:41 PM
1 mom liked this

Ah, the military is ever so slowly entering the 21st century. 

gammie
by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:45 PM

I disagree with this new policy. Woman are in more danger in combat, from the enemy and her own troops from rape.

Like it or not woman are a distraction.

gammie
by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:54 PM

The Invisible War Poster

The Invisible War

    An investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the US military.

Very important movie for young girls to see if thinking of going into the military.
brookiecookie87
by Platinum Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:21 PM
2 moms liked this


Quoting gammie:

I disagree with this new policy. Woman are in more danger in combat, from the enemy and her own troops from rape.

Like it or not woman are a distraction.


That's a backwards way of looking at things. Guys don't have the right to Rape a women because she is a female.

We need to crack down harder on guys who rape females. There is no excuse that makes the Rape okay. If they were punished and there was no negative stigma on females for reporting it-This wouldn't be a problem. And wouldn't be a distraction.

Join us on the 99% Moms group!
The Ninety-Nine Percent Moms   

If they enforced bank regulations like they do park rules, we wouldn't be in this mess

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 8:52 PM

 On the surface it is great.  When it gets to the job on the ground, it is not a good idea.  It isn't bad because of our own military, but because of the current enemy we face.

 

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 2:23 AM

This was inevitable.

And, in 20 years, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 2:25 AM
2 moms liked this
Quoting gammie:

I disagree with this new policy. Woman are in more danger in combat, from the enemy and her own troops from rape.

Like it or not woman are a distraction.

Poor ickle men can't be near female booty without raping 'it', so let's protect them by keeping those nasty distracting people with cooties away from them?

If a woman is in more danger from the enemy, because the enemy will target her in prefernce to a man, or will do worse thing to her on capture, isn't that still the woman's right to consent to that risk if she chooses?

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 2:26 AM
Quoting yourspecialkid:

 On the surface it is great.  When it gets to the job on the ground, it is not a good idea.  It isn't bad because of our own military, but because of the current enemy we face.

 

The Israeli army is integrated, isn't it?

How ineffective are they against that enemy?

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 9:27 AM

 

Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 On the surface it is great.  When it gets to the job on the ground, it is not a good idea.  It isn't bad because of our own military, but because of the current enemy we face.

 

The Israeli army is integrated, isn't it?

How ineffective are they against that enemy?

 Sighs...what is it with some of you and your assumptions?  Please point out where I said they would be ineffective.  Oh, you can't..because I didn't.

I DID say on the surface it is great.  A quick look at history tells us women can be great warriors.  It is our current enemy that is the primary concern for the military leaders with concerns..men such as my husband.  He has a number of women in his command, a couple he worked hard to get moved to this base.  He understands women can be great assets.

I do not expect you to understand his reasoning because you do not have a military command and you have not made mulitiple deployments against the same enemy.

 

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 9:35 AM
Quoting yourspecialkid:

 It is our current enemy that is the primary concern for the military leaders with concerns.

So explain.

What is it about your current enemy that makes in inadvisable for America to have woman in combat roles, but ok for Israel to have women in combat roles.

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