Through most of American military history, women have relegated to roles of support. While roles were necessary, and in the case of nurses, lifesaving, some women still wanted to do more as one of the women in combat roles. They wanted active positions in the military.
Women could be just as patriotic and called to serve the nation as men. This call to duty was never truer than during World War II. When thousands of women left their homes to pick up the mantle left at empty munitions factories.
Men were leaving for war and women wanted to help. Many women went to help were wives. And in some cases, mothers of the men who went to war. Aside from nursing or administrative assistance, there’s no other way for a woman to support the war effort directly.
Much like everything else, things inevitably change as time goes on. The United States was a country built on the idea that you could be anything you wanted. Freedom was just that. Of course, not everyone was free to do as they wished. After World War II was over, the country started changing. Civil rights leaders fought to make inequality a thing of the past. Women and African Americans won many rights they didn’t have previously.
Eventually, women won the right to be able to serve alongside their male counterparts in a time of war. It was a long road, but at the current time, a woman can complete basic training and stand shoulder to shoulder with a man on the front line. Why was this a significant development in the history of our country? What are the benefits of women in combat roles?
Women always played an essential part in American military history. There have been documented occurrences of women, especially in revolutionary America. Taking up arms after their husbands killed. These few and far between instances. As stated above women were pushed into supporting roles. And while these were just as important, some women wanted more. If a woman could be a test pilot, for example. Why wasn’t she good enough to serve in the Air Force?
In 1979, women were given the right to enlist in all branches of the military. However, even with this small victory came conditions. Women only had specific jobs or specialties to choose from. And the positions that glaringly omitted were those having to do with combat. In 1993, restrictions on women being fighter pilots were dropped. This acceptance was heralded as a huge win.
However, in 1994, the United States government placed an official ban on women serving in combat roles. It was justified by saying women had no place carrying weapons or riding in tanks in a time of war. Female recruits across all branches of the military had been dealt another blow.
Less than a decade after the ban imposed. A horrible terrorist attack occurred in New York City. The attacks of 9/11 changed many things for Americans, including perspective. Little by little, people began seeing how valuable women in combat roles could be. The future of the American conflict in the Middle East was guaranteed to be long-standing and had no end in sight.
Many people took the position that if a woman wanted to wield a gun on the front lines alongside a male counterpart. And if that woman was equally qualified, there should be no stopping her. With the country embroiled in chasing terrorists across the world. The number of military personnel that would be needed was going to increase.
Women were finally granted the right to choose direct combat roles in all branches of the military in January 2016. It was cause for celebration among women who wanted to make real change in the world. Women could be Army Rangers, Navy SEALS, tank operators, and gunners. As long as a woman could meet the qualifications of a role, she could earn it.
While women celebrated the inclusion in some of the toughest roles in the military, many people were left wondering: Could it be done? Could the largest “boys club” in the country welcome women with open arms and firm handshakes? The long and short answer is no. There are still many negatives associated with women serving in combat, but the two main objections are:
It’s a fact that women and men are structurally and biologically different. Men have more dense muscle and bone structure. Men are taller and physically stronger than women. In contrast, on average, women are shorter in stature. They have less muscle mass and don’t have the upper body strength that men have. Even the most physically fit and capable women may still be less fit than her male counterparts.
One primary concern has to do with the way men will accept women. While this isn’t any one person’s fault, it’s a reality woman have to face. A woman entering a combat role or unit has to be prepared for being accepted as an equal member of the team. Men may not believe she will be able to hold her own in combat. Further, those same men may assume a protective role. If a unit cannot function with complete trust and reliance on each other, it isn’t any good. It breaks down, and the soldiers who are a part of that unit stop performing well and start becoming bitter, angry and complacent.
There has also been the reality that violence against women can occur in the military both on the front lines and at home. Women have fallen prey to unit members and even commanding officers. These horrible acts have been exploited and held up as reasons to stop women from doing the same jobs as men. Instead of punishing women, a new system should be enacted that instead punishes the aggressors. This aspect of gender equality is still an ongoing mission throughout the world, not just in the United States military.
The inclusion of women in combat roles or jobs is still relatively new; however, some surprising benefits have been discovered.
Some people were looking for women to fail; however, the opposite has been more accurate. Women have been succeeding in ways that no one thought possible or plausible just a few years ago. In fact, women have proven they are better in some roles than men.
Women are able to multi-task more efficiently and effectively than men. In combat roles, as in any other job civilian included, this innate ability means women can make judgment calls on one front while actively engaging in another. Women can act in one way, and at the same time analyze the next steps.
There have been cases in the Middle East where a female soldier has been able to gain information from female and children that a male soldier couldn’t get. Part of this because, in the Muslim religion, women aren’t permitted to speak to a man other than her husband. The United States military, while wanting to respect this tradition. Still finds it necessary to get information from these civilians. If the unit has a female soldier on the front line. She speaks to the civilian and gathers the requisite information. Part of this is due to tradition on the part of the female civilian.
Another aspect of this is that women often exhibit empathy and sensitivity in certain situations that their male counterparts don’t. Even decked out in flak jackets and gear. A woman can usually speak softly and exude a sense of helpfulness and peace. She is trusted more easily than a man. Along with this same line, women have also been vital in going in undercover and infiltrating enemy networks to gain intelligence.
American has always seen itself as being groundbreaking. As stated earlier, the fundamental basis for the formation of our country was this ideology that all people are equal. America has set the standard in so many ways for so many countries. The ability of women to serve the nation in any manner they choose. Gives rise to a new feeling of pride and nationalism. Since 9/11, people have wanted to step up, help and protect the country. Allowing women to participate in this protection. Actively opens the doors for half of the country’s population. To be eligible to continue protecting the freedom it was built on.
The United States sets the tone for much of what happens around the world, good or bad. In the case of ending gender inequality, significant advances have been made. Allowing women to fill any role they want in the military. Including those on the front lines, is another step towards achieving this equality. Women in combat roles are a relatively new policy. The hope continues to evolve and improve as time goes on. Hopefully, a positive groundwork has been laid to aid in the success of anyone who wishes to serve her country in this way.