Women in Combat – Why not?

A government commission will urge the U.S. military this spring to allow women to serve as combat soldiers, but the Pentagon is not likely to adopt those recommendations any time soon as it struggles with two long wars and a new policy toward gay troops.” Reuters.com article Jan 20, 2011

Despite a US government sponsored commission that recommends removing the restrictions that ban women from the combat trades in the US military, the policy will likely go unchanged. Britain also recently decided to maintain their exclusion of women in ground combat roles.

In todays wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the distinction of combat vs non combat does not apply. Whether by roadside bombs or ambushes of patrol units, all soldiers are under threat and de facto, in combat.

In Canada, women have been working in the combat trades since 1989 and are active in those roles in Afghanistan.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for allowing women into combat roles? How does it work for the troops in Canada?

Comments: 1 Comment

One Response to “Women in Combat – Why not?”

  1. Jane Thelwell, Maj (ret'd), says:

    When I served in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1996/97, the CF had just released a new policy aimed at encouraging young Canadian women to go to the recruiting centre (it was not affirmative action, just a marketing campaign targeting the recruitment of young women). The male Canadian soldiers(Engineers)that were working with me in Bosnia were sitting around the coffee table complaining about the prospect of more women and a dilution of standards. A Bosnia Electrical Engineer, who was working with us, made a very astute comment about the recently released policy. He said “this gender politics stuff is a luxury that only peace-time amateurs can afford. In a real war, you have to appreciate everyone’s talents and skills. If they are not on your side, they may end up on the other side.” I think this perspective was very insightful. In my experience, the US, UK and Canadian armies are not peace-time amatuers. Why do we keep acting like as if we are? Are we extremely risk adverse or just discriminatory?