The Pentagon's decision to permit women in combat is drawing strong
reactions from advocates and critics, with few conflicted voices
stepping to the fore. For something involving the capability, safety and
efficacy of our armed forces, this is surprising.
Most importantly, this decision has not come suddenly, not out of the blue. It was reached collectively, because commanders were convinced – by further integration of women throughout the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this last decade — that they are fit for some combat operations. Though it is historic, because it makes the military more inclusive, it has come after decades in which many women have not only served and been held back from promotion, but have died as well.
Yet no matter the merits, lifting this ban now will create profound challenges for the military. The transition to implementing a repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” along with the integration of women into combat roles at a time of steep budget-cutting, will make things very difficult for all of the armed forces for the near term — and that could last years.
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