During the Persian Gulf War, women were sent to the Middle East to fly helicopters, service combat jets, refuel tankers, and load laser-guided bombs. Their performance has led the world to realize that women are extremely useful in combat. Defense secretary Dick Chaney said “Women have made a major contribution to this war effort. We could not have won without them.” Leaders in the field agreed. The Gulf War had the largest deployment of women in the armed forces in history. These women encountered the same risks as the men they served with.
In the Persian Gulf, there were no exact positions and all areas were equally vulnerable, so the idea of safe havens for women was not really applicable. By many armed forces policies, females are banned from combat jobs and units, but in the Persian Gulf War females were assigned to battleships, aircraft carriers, and marine support groups dug into the desert. From their experience in the Persian Gulf, military women have earned the right to be treated as equals with men and not as protected individuals.
In spite of their record as able combat personnel, there are laws and policies that restrict women in the United States Military from serving in positions that require them to engage in direct combat. Women in the Air Force and Navy are barred from aircraft and vessels that have a chance to be exposed to combat. The official, established policies of the Army and Marine Corps exclude women from combat. These policies prohibit women, on the basis of gender only, from over twelve percent of the skill positions and thirty-nine percent of the total positions offered by the Department of Defense. Such policies excluding women from combat need to be repealed by Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment’s “Equal Protection Clause” insures every citizen “the equal protection of the laws.” Although the clause is not applicable to Federal government, the Supreme Court said the Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment prohibits the federal government from making unreasonable classifications. Therefore the set laws and policies that exclude women from combat not only violate the Fifth Amendment, but also deny women their fundamental right to engage and excel in their chosen occupation.
There have been many court cases involving women in combat over the years, although there has never been a case directly challenging the constitutionality laws and regulations banning women from combat. In the case of Frontiero vs. Richardson, the court rejected the idea that “man is, or should be, woman’s protector or defender,” which in actuality, put women not on a pedestal, but in a cage. In Satty vs. Nashville Gas Co., the decision stated that gender does not determine who is able to perform capably as a soldier. In the case of Schlesinger vs. Ballard, it was realized by the Supreme Court that the combat exclusion hinders the abilities of women to gain the experience needed for promotion within the military. The combat exclusion puts women wishing to obtain qualification for high-level positions at a disadvantage, because leadership training is usually acquired in combat-type positions.
Although many females are not eager to go into combat, there are women who can and want to do the job. In a time where technology takes over battle lines and brains might be more important than brawn, a reason to exclude women is non-existent.
Essay on Women Serving in Combat Roles in the Military
1825 Words8 Pages
It is worthwhile to reflect on the social and political advancements of women during the past one hundred years. Women now have the right to vote and to own property. They let their voices be heard instead of sitting silently in the kitchen. Women hold jobs previously restricted to men - police officer, firefighter, construction worker, doctor, truck driver and scientist. Obviously, this list is not all inclusive. Unfortunately, there is still one area that remains restricted to women. Women have assisted the military forces as far back as the Revolutionary War and yet there remains positions that women are excluded from. Female military personnel, having proven their ability to handle combat situations and having…show more content…
This permitted women to fill combat-support positions, at least for the duration of World War II. Greater progress came after World War II with the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948. This would be the first time that women were permitted to serve in the military during peace-time. However, each branch had a two percent limit on the number of women that could be enlisted at any one time, and promotions were very restricted (Valceanu 22). Certainly, this shows advancement for women in the military, but it was merely due to the shortage of men available for military duty. Equality for women in the military was definitely not a consideration at this time. While women would also serve during the Korean War and the Vietnam War, there was little progress until the 1970's. In 1972, women comprised only two percent of all military personnel, ninety percent of which were in "traditional female medical and administrative positions" (Binkin 10). It would appear that there was very little progress during the twenty-three years since the passage of the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948. The restrictions placed on the number of women enlistments, combined with the military's attitude toward women, created an impasse that would prove difficult to break through. The Equal Rights Amendment would turn these military issues into political ones, and women would begin to