Impending Gender Parity in the US Armed Forces?
January 13, 2011
A military commission set up two years ago to study diversity in the US armed forces is set to release their recommendations this spring. It was leaked today that one of the recommendations is to remove the current prohibition against women directly serving in combat units. (They already are serving in them, it’s just called being “attached” to a combat unit). This gender inequity has prevented females from getting the same opportunities for promotion as males, even though women are already doing the work unofficially in combat infantry units. Females are already officially serving in flight infantry combat units.
” The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, established by Congress two years ago, issued the recommendation as part of a draft report on diversity in the services. The final report is due to lawmakers this spring, and commission members are meeting this week in Virginia to debate final changes.
In the draft, commission members call for a phased approach to open additional career fields with ground combat units to qualified women, saying the current policy limits the ability of commanders to pick the most capable person for their missions.
“To date, there has been little evidence that the integration of women into previously closed units or occupations has had a negative impact on important mission-related performance factors, like unit cohesion,” the draft states.
“Furthermore, a study by the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services actually found that a majority of focus group participants felt that women serving in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a positive impact on mission accomplishment.”
The draft report notes that the restriction on combat posts prohibits women from serving in about 10 percent of Army and Marine Corps occupations, a “structural barrier” which could hurt their chances of promotion or advancement.
Proponents of women in combat roles have argued that the distinction is obsolete in the new combat environments of Iraq and Afghanistan, where support units have routinely found themselves involved in roadside bomb attacks and insurgent ambushes.
Since 2001, 114 female U.S. servicemembers have been killed in fighting in Iraq and 23 have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan.”