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Military lifts ban on front line females

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 19:01

ROTC running

Staci Vandagriff, Staff Photographer

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently decided to allow female military personnel on the front line. One female ROTC student stated that women can do the job as well as males.

Pentagon chief Leon Panetta’s recent decision to open front-line positions to women within the United States military has been a source of debate both among members of the military and civilian citizens. Even days after the announcement, the dispute over allowing women in combat still continues, even on the ASU campus.

fessor of political science, said the previous policy was implemented mainly because of a social habit. “It was based on a long-standing assumption that women are weaker physically and mentally less rugged [than men],” Buzby said. “But that attitude has been shifting over time as women take more of a role in society.”

“We are becoming more gender neutral,” Barbara Warner, an assistant professor of political science, said. “I don’t see that this is something that we can roll back, or that we would even want to roll back.”

Another major concern is whether women are capable of withstanding the physical strain placed upon front-line soldiers.  “There are going to be some standards women will not meet, especially when it comes to upper-body strength,” Warner said.

“I think that the infantryman concept would be very harsh of a career [for women], and that it would cause higher casualty rate,” one ASU ROTC student said.

Additional concerns have been expressed over the suitability of women to serve in elite combat units such as the Navy SEALS or Green Berets.

“I am sure some women will fail in that role just as surely as some men will fail in that role,” Buzby of the political science department said. “But I’m just as sure that there are some women in the military that will certainly succeed in that capacity.”

In the words of one female ROTC student, “Women for years have already been on the frontline in combat and have sacrificed their lives. We can do the job just as good as any of our male counterparts.”

Hans Hacker, an assistant professor of political science, agrees. “Women have demonstrated that they can do their job in military units, that’s what most people are concerned about.”

In addition, some feel that the new allowances will not present “Since 230,000 women have already experienced combat, I do not think there is that much of a change,” Hackler said.

 “It’s a big step symbolically,” Warner of the political science department said. “It is policy catching up with reality.”

This historic decision is also reflective of the Obama administration’s commitment to equality and multiculturalism, according to Warner.

“It is interesting that President Obama is starting his second term trying to accomplish some of these things, moving towards greater equality and inclusiveness,” Hackler said.

One ROTC student summed up the feelings of many female personnel in the wake of this decision. “I am happy that the armed forces are allowing us as women to do this. Now we just have to take it one step at a time and achieve.”


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