- (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has lifted the combat ban on women, which prevented female soldiers from seeking front line jobs in the military. The decision has reignited the debate on whether or not men and women are truly treated as equals in the U.S.
Senior defense officials announced the decision, which could open positions to women as soon as this year, on Wednesday in anonymity; Panetta will not announce the change until Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Some reports have stated that pressure to open combat positions has come from outside the military and not necessarily from women who are seeking the positions within.
"I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress claiming that their inability to serve in the infantry violates their right to equality," Capt. Katie Petronio stated an article for the Marine Corps Gazette.
Proponents for removing the ban have argued that women are already serving in combat positions within the military, excepting direct ground combat (DGC). They suggest that the 15 year-old policy is outdated, although others fear that the people with these views fail to have relevant military experience.
"This issue is being pushed by several groups one of which is a small committee of civilians appointed by the Secretary of Defense called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS)," Petronio said.
Her concern is that "none of the committee members are on active duty or have any recent combat or relevant operational experience relating to the issue they are attempting to change."
An Army Sergeant from the 1st Recruiting Brigade who spoke under the condition of anonymity to The Christian Post raised other concerns as well. A former infantryman who was deployed twice to Iraq with the 1st Calvary Division, he believes that "sexual distraction" could prevent males and females from building the camaraderie necessary to survive on the front line.
Panetta's decision will give military officials until 2016 to seek exceptions, allowing a possible continuance of the ban on select positions. The announcement could open more than 230,000 jobs to females, according to AP.