Women In Combat Essay Research Paper The

Women In Combat Essay, Research Paper

The idea of women in combat is not unusual anymore. They

should be able to hold combat positions beacause although physical

strength matters, the military still needs the intelligence that women

can bring. Also, banning women from the combat hurts their military

careers. Although women account for only ten percent of the

enlisted personnel (Time, 8/21/95/ Pg. 31), they are still a major

part in the armed forces. Their performance recently has generated

support from Congress and the public for enhancing the role of females

in the military.

During the Persian Gulf War, women were sent to the Middle

East to fly helicopters, service combat jets, refuel tankers, and load

laser-guided bombs. Their performance has led the world to realize

that women are extremely useful in combat. Defense secretary Dick

Chaney said “Women have made a major contribution to this [war]

effort. We could not have won without them.” Leaders in the field

agreed. The Gulf War had the largest deployment of women in the armed

forces in history. These women encountered the same risks as the men

they served with. Twenty one females lost their lives (Holm, Women in

Combat: The New Reality, pg. 67-68).

In the Persian Gulf, there were no exact positions and all

areas were equally vulnerable, so the idea of safe havens for women

was not really applicable. By many armed forces policies, females are

banned from combat jobs and units, but in the Persian Gulf War females

were assigned to battleships, aircraft carriers, and marine support

groups dug into the desert. From their experience in the Persian Gulf,

military women have earned the right to be treated as equals with

men and not as protected individuals.

In spite of their record as able combat personnel, there are

laws and policies that restrict women in the United States Military

from serving in positions that require them to engage in direct

combat. Women in the Air Force and Navy are barred from aircraft and

vessels that have a chance to be exposed to combat. The official,

established policies of the Army and Marine Corps exclude women from

combat (Snyder, pg. 75-76). These policies prohibit women, on the

basis of gender only, from over twelve percent of the skill positions

and thirty-nine percent of the total positions offered by the

Department of Defense. Such policies excluding women from combat need

to be repealed by Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment’s “Equal

Protection Clause” insures every citizen “the equal protection of the

laws.” Although the clause is not applicable to Federal government,

the Supreme Court said the Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment

prohibits the federal government from making unreasonable

classifications. Therefore the set laws and policies that exclude

women from combat not only violate the Fifth Amendment, but also deny

women their fundamental right to engage and excel in their chosen


There have been many court cases involving women in combat

over the years, although there has never been a case directly

challenging the constitutionality laws and regulations banning women

from combat. In the case of Frontiero vs. Richardson, the court

rejected the idea that “man is, or should be, woman’s protector or

defender,” which in actuality, put women not on a pedestal, but in

a cage. In Satty vs. Nashville Gas Co., the decision stated that

gender does not determine who is able to perform capably as a soldier.

In the case of Schlesinger vs. Ballard, it was realized by the Supreme

Court that the combat exclusion hinders the abilities of women to gain

the experience needed for promotion within the military. The combat

exclusion puts women wishing to obtain qualification for high-level

positions at a disadvantage, because leadership training is

usually acquired in combat-type positions.

Although many females are not eager to go into combat, there are

women who can and want to do the job. In a time where technology takes

over battle lines and brains might be more important than brawn, a

reason to exclude women is non-existant.


Time Magazine, Aug 21, 1991 p.31.

Holm, Jeanne, Women in Combat: The New Reality, pg. 67-68.

Snyder, Kathy L. “An Equal Right to Fight.”


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