Women involvement in combat was banned in 1994 by the Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule. A case is presented to have a U.S. law so that women can be permitted to serve in all military roles. Despite the reasons that might have prompted the ban, there is no more convincing evidences that women are incapable of serving in whatever military branch. They have served in war zones. Some hundreds of women have even been awarded the coveted Combat Action Badge for actively engaging in a battle with a hostile enemy. For that reason, politicians, veterans, military officials as well as military experts have been lobbying for the ban to be lifted. However, the big question is whether really women in combat zones can add to the much needed strength for the military. The main objective of this essay is to discuss and present vividly the views of the proponents who argue for the lifting of the ban for strengthening of the military and also of the defenders of the status quo.
Women’s role in the US military and especially on the combat zone has been and still is a source of ideological debate among different stakeholders, not only in the US but the world over. A report by Jennifer Hlad on January 25, 2013 in the Stripes.com titled, “Combat roles for women will strengthen the military, leaders say” drew different reactions from the public and stakeholders. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the Pentagon had lifted a ban on putting women in combat roles. President Obama himself was said to be supportive of the move, but not all people were happy with the move by the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta.
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Arguments in Support
Women Have Every Right to Be in the Military
One of the proponents, Duncan Hunter, argues that banning of women from taking part in a combat does not guarantee the success and effectiveness. That the arguments supporting the ban such as that they will only be disruptors of war units’ readiness and confidence are not substantiated in the current women’s performance data and the impact they have on the dynamics of troops. In addition, he says America’s women have a rightful place in the military and so the defenders of the ban let go and acknowledge the contributions made by women as already recognized by many other military officials. According to Hunter, the defenders are only contributing to conservation of gender stereotypes which are counterproductive (Mackenzie, 2012).
Women Are As Fit As Men
Due to the continued involvement and good performance of women in the battle fields and other changes which have been taking place, the Department of Defense received recommendations from the Military Leadership Diversity Commission in 2011 to lift the ban on women being in a combat. According to trials conducted by the Canadian military on the controversial issue of the capacity of women’s physique, psychology, sociology it concluded and recommended that the restriction on Canada’s women in combat be lifted. In the same breath, acquiring the same level of physical fitness the combat officers described by whatever criteria cannot be achieved or either is defended by any conclusive evidence. In fact, observation has it that women who join the military are normally more fit compared to the average American men. There is also evidence that women stand a better position to benefit from the programs for training combat soldiers on fitness (Mackenzie, 2012).
Women in Combat Are Not a Threat to Masculine Identity
It is very wrong to argue that having women on the combat are a threat to the “unified masculine identity of the military’’ and that some men are weak sexually so if they are working at a close proximity with women, they may concentrate on having affairs thus making them lose focus. Well, it should be noted that military officers should stick to professional goals and be committed to the same goals in order to perform well. According to the research carried out by Army Research Institute for Behavioral and social Sciences in 1995, it was observed that it is commitment to the task given to the military officer that gives rise to cohesiveness and performance and not and not getting attracted to or liking each other. This sort of closeness only blamed of women being in combat is also not tolerable even in the male bonding since it will compromise good performance (Mackenzie, 2012).
To Balance on Gender Equality
Many Americans view the fact that women are included in the military as centering on gender equality as well as military effectiveness. Studies have shown that women are more substantially less supportive of the use of troops in foreign affairs missions like Afghanistan. This means that women approach their roles in involvement as one that involves war and not on gender grounds (Wilcox, 1992).
Today, war is still seen as a prerogative for men. Women are mainly excluded from the antagonism, except only as victims of brutality that is inflicted on them by the men. It is therefore better that we have a discussion that details the multiple facets of war; women at war and women in war. Since time immemorial, was has been an integral part of the human history. However, this age old activity has been the preserve of certain the society (Herrmann, 2010).
Most Women Interviewed Are Not Ready For Combat Roles
Miller (1998) presents rather unique information on a study that examined public arguments of feminist groups who seem to act as advocate for military women which is in contrast to the US Army women beliefs and gives views on the sexual difference regarding combat assignment for women. Milner argues that although they claim to represent views of military women on combat exclusion policy, the feminist activists only correspond to a minority of the army women. Although many more soldiers seem to support opening the way for combat women, it is however only on a volunteer basis. In fact most women are not even interested n serving in combat arms as well as quiet a good number do believe that are not capable of doing so. There is a huge gap between the activists who deny that there is no difference between the women and men in the combat seeking to bring the women’s policies in line with that of men and those who support greater opportunities for women but do not perceive women as equally qualified as men for combat. This simply means that combat roles for women will not add to the strength of the army.
However, most women believe that lobbying for a compulsory service for women is regressive and that is why they maintain that serving in the military in a combat role should instead be voluntary for both. If the women are pressed to choose between exclusion and inclusion in combat roles, most women will opt for exclusion. That is why most women will also choose a policy that stipulates matching Army needs with the women’s choices, abilities and skills.
Physical Differences between Men and Women Matter
Other people opposed to the view of putting women in combat roles are Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin who also served in the US Army and was a member of the Delta Forces. Jerry says that putting the women in combat positions is “dangerous experiment” and could potentially impair the military effectiveness of our ground forces.” Boykin argues that having both men and women in combat roles will also proof to be burdensome for commanders especially with impending underlying sexual tensions. Another columnist, Margaret Wente, argues further that physical differences between men and women also matters on the battle field and women are likely to be a liability as well as meaning that the physical demands may not be compatible with gender equality. The two arguments above is another indication that having women in combat will not add to the strength of the military but in fact deprive it of the much needed strength as they are bound to be tension between the men and women on the combat zone due physical differences.
Sexual Difference between Men and Women
The above statement basically refers to the fact that most Army women find that the sexual difference to be a relevant debate about combat assignment. The women further believe that the advocates who believe that the difference is irrelevant are rather detached from the reality. They however say that sexual difference applies to different people in different ways. Army women put the argument forth that they should not be forced into roles for which they are uninterested or unqualified in the name of gender balance. This is because unlike the advocates, Army women view that there are differences between the sexes. These women argue that although gender distinctions are not needed anymore, it should not imply that the women are forced to the combat zones same as men but could prefer to work towards a policy where they are not forced into combat roles. Many of the women interviewed suggested that instead of devaluing their work and seeing that men’s work is more challenging or more important than theirs, they say that their work, not necessarily on the combat zone, should also be seen as important and challenging as well (Miller, 1998).
The role of women in the US military and especially on the combat zone has been and still is a source of ideological debate among different stakeholders. A 1994 directive that banned women on the combat zone was recently lifted and this has drawn various reactions from players and the public. The president and other military officials support the move arguing that women as well as their male counterparts can be involved in combat. This is because women have a constitutional right to be in the military: they are fit as men and also to balance gender equality. However, opponents of the move argue that physical and sexual differences between men and women really matters in the combat zone, military women who were interviewed also indicated that they may not be ready for such roles. it should however be noted that as long as women are willing, they should be included in the military combat and compete with their male counterparts.
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