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Women should be allowed to fight in combat and in combat missions

Email Women, who make up some 14 percent of the armed forces, should finally be permitted to serve fully in front-line combat units, a military advisory panel says.

The call by a commission of current and retired military officers to dismantle the last major area of discrimination in the armed services could set in motion another sea change in military culture as the armed forces, generations after racial barriers fell, grapples with the phasing out of the ban on gays serving openly. This latest move is being recommended by the Military Leadership Diversity Commissionestablished by Congress two years ago.

The panel was to send its proposals to Congress and President Barack Obama. It is time "to create a level playing field for all qualified service members," the members said Friday.

Opponents of putting women in combat question whether they have the necessary strength and stamina.

  • It says a previous independent report suggested that women serving in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan "had a positive impact on mission accomplishment;
  • Women are barred from certain combat assignments in all the services but face the broadest restrictions in the Army and Marines;
  • But regardless of what becomes of the policy, she noted that women will continue to be drawn into combat action, "situations for which they are fully trained and equipped to respond;
  • Defense policy prohibits women from being assigned to any unit smaller than a brigade whose primary mission is direct combat on the ground;
  • Congress recently stripped the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly, and the Navy changed its rules over the last year to allow women to serve on submarines for the first time;
  • For example, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in September that he expects women to be let into special operations forces eventually, and in a careful, deliberate manner.

They also have said the inclusion of women in infantry and other combat units might harm unit cohesion, a similar argument to that made regarding gays. And they warn Americans won't tolerate large numbers of women coming home in body bags.

Those arguments have held sway during previous attempts to lift the ban. Congress recently stripped the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly, and the Navy changed its rules over the last year to allow women to serve on submarines for the first time.

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Women are barred from certain combat assignments in all the services but face the broadest restrictions in the Army and Marines. Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine captain and executive director of the advocacy group Service Women's Action Networksaid the prohibition on women in combat "is archaic, it does not reflect the many sacrifices and contributions that women make in the military, and it ignores the reality of current war-fighting doctrine.

Defense policy prohibits women from being assigned to any unit smaller than a brigade whose primary mission is direct combat on the ground. The new report says that keeping women out of combat posts prohibits them from serving in roughly 10 percent of Marine Corps and Army occupational specialties and thus is a barrier to advancement.

Supporters of the change say women essentially have been in combat for years, even if they are nominally removed from it.

  • The Associated Press contributed to this report;
  • Supporters of the change say women essentially have been in combat for years, even if they are nominally removed from it;
  • Congress recently stripped the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly, and the Navy changed its rules over the last year to allow women to serve on submarines for the first time.

She said ending the ban would be "a logical outcome of what women have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Army and Marines have been essentially ducking the policy. The new report says there has been little evidence that integrating women into previously closed units or military occupations has damaged cohesion or had other ill effects.

  1. She said ending the ban would be "a logical outcome of what women have been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Army and Marines have been essentially ducking the policy. The new report says that keeping women out of combat posts prohibits them from serving in roughly 10 percent of Marine Corps and Army occupational specialties and thus is a barrier to advancement.
  2. Women are barred from certain combat assignments in all the services but face the broadest restrictions in the Army and Marines.
  3. The Army is doing its own internal study of women in combat as well. The panel was to send its proposals to Congress and President Barack Obama.
  4. Women are barred from certain combat assignments in all the services but face the broadest restrictions in the Army and Marines. This latest move is being recommended by the Military Leadership Diversity Commission , established by Congress two years ago.
  5. The advisory commission recommends a phased-in approach. But regardless of what becomes of the policy, she noted that women will continue to be drawn into combat action, "situations for which they are fully trained and equipped to respond.

It says a previous independent report suggested that women serving in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan "had a positive impact on mission accomplishment.

For example, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in September that he expects women to be let into special operations forces eventually, and in a careful, deliberate manner. The advisory commission recommends a phased-in approach. The Army is doing its own internal study of women in combat as well. Pentagon figures show that as of Jan. In the Afghanistan campaign, 24 women have been killed compared with more than 1,400 men.

Report: Women Should Be Allowed in Combat

Lainez said the department will review the recommendations when the report is delivered. But regardless of what becomes of the policy, she noted that women will continue to be drawn into combat action, "situations for which they are fully trained and equipped to respond. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.