EDITORIAL: Ban On Women In Combat Had To Go
Jan 25, 2013 (The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Connecticut National Guard Spec. Cindy Marie Beaudoin was just 19 in 1991 when she became one of the last casualties of the Persian Gulf War. The Plainfield native and University of Connecticut student died after stepping on a landmine. AMVET Post 47 in Brooklyn, Conn., is named in her honor; her sacrifice is remembered every February at a moving graveside ceremony.
No one had to tell Spec. Beaudoin's family or friends, who still mourn her, that she was exposed to combat, despite the military's official policy of excluding women from such situations. The same holds true for the more than 800 women wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and 130-plus who have died in the two wars, many as the result of enemy fire.
The charade will soon end. This week, in a historic recognition of reality, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have recommended that the military end the ban on women in combat.
It is overdue. Women serve in combat now, but because of the combat exclusion policy, women who want a career in the military have far fewer opportunities than men, for whom any job is open. Women are currently excluded from artillery, armor, infantry and other combat roles. Dozens of military occupational specialties are closed to women along with more than 200,000 military jobs. Many women in the military consider the policy little more than permission to discriminate against them.
Of course, in a modern military, readiness is paramount and changes must be implemented in a way that doesn't hurt the force. Thus, lifting the ban and making needed changes will take up to three years. At a press conference yesterday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said this new policy would make the military better. He pointed out that under the combat exclusion policy, standards for certain jobs didn't have to be justified.
Before, he said, the question asked was, "Why should women serve " in certain positions. Now, he said, the burden will be on the military to answer, "Why shouldn't a woman serve " That was the right question all along.
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