Former marine weighs in on women in combat

Female soldier on alert

By James Kohler | Staff Writer |

Women can now fight alongside their male counterparts in the United States military.
On April 24, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opened combat positions to women that were previously restricted only to men.
“If members of our military can meet the qualifications for a job — and let me be clear, we are not reducing qualifications — then they should have the right to serve,” said Panetta.
As a former infantryman in the U.S. Marine Corps, I think it is a fantastic idea.
If a woman wants to strap on 80 pounds of gear, carry a 20-pound weapon and patrol through a dangerous city in Iraq or Afghanistan then I’ll be in formation right next to her.
Reuben Perales, a student-veteran, who at one point spent over 12 months in Iraq, echoes my sentiments. “If they can do the job I’m all for it.”
Now, it’s highly unlikely that combat units of the military will become inundated with women volunteers, but to those willing to accept Panetta’s offer, I say good luck.
Speaking from an infantryman’s perspective, you are, in essence, volunteering for a life of hell.
You will sleep outside in miserable conditions, often times in a hole you personally dug.
You will urinate and defecate in another hole, again, that you dug.
You may be called upon to use your weapon in times of war to take the life of another human being.
These deaths are in-person, up close and are so much different from the movies.
Ultimately, you may be required to give your life in defense of this great nation.
If a woman says yes to any or all of those questions, I applaud her bravery and willingness to sacrifice everything for our country.
Instead of opposing such a heroic notion, this nation should applaud and support this change.
As with any new endeavor, the first women who volunteer are sure to face a tough transition into these units.
“These women will initially be held to a higher standard,” says Marci Daniels, CSUSB’s Veteran’s Success Center Coordinator and an Army veteran.
However, she does not want the military to adopt different standards to accommodate women.
Ultimately, opponents of Panetta’s decision are scared of change.
I disagree with their opinion that when a woman is killed, it will adversely affect the male soldiers more so than if another man was killed.
These units train for extended periods preparing for combat. Losing a comrade-in-arms to hostile enemy action, male or female, is horrible.
Yet to believe that a man, after training for so long with members of both sexes, will be affected any differently is absurd.
Finally, I believe Panetta’s decision is a gamble.
The United States is a military superpower. Foreign countries will be closely observing this experiment to see how it plays out.
If this new opportunity to women in the Military is  successful, it will make the military of this country stronger by adding to its arsenal of combat ready personnel.



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