Panetta lifts Pentagon ban on women serving in direct combat

posted at 5:11 pm on January 23, 2013 by Allahpundit

Dan Foster has the right idea. No more excuses, ladies. It’s time.

Just this morning I was thinking that abortion and gay marriage had gotten a bit stale as fodder for really nasty, bitter culture-war bloodsport. Luckily, Obama and Leon Panetta are here to keep things interesting.

The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta’s decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women

Panetta’s move expands the Pentagon’s action nearly a year ago to open about 14,500 combat positions to women, nearly all of them in the Army. This decision could open more than 230,000 jobs, many in Army and Marine infantry units, to women.

In recent years the necessities of war propelled women into jobs as medics, military police and intelligence officers that were sometimes attached — but not formally assigned — to units on the front lines.

The AP says Panetta’s order will involve “allowing women to seek the combat positions,” which isn’t remotely the same as ordering women who are already in the service to the front lines. Sounds like the opportunity will be there for women soldiers if and when they want it — although as women serving in the infantry becomes more common, it’s bound to create peer pressure on women troops who don’t necessarily want to go to the front but feel obliged to. Oh well. CNN has more on how this differs from the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In short, there’s no “special exemption” available to a unit that concludes it can’t/won’t integrate gay troops:

The Army and Marine Corps, especially, will be examining physical standards and gender-neutral accommodations within combat units. Every 90 days, the service chiefs will have to report back on their progress…

[The policy] is a marked difference from the way the military ended the exclusion of gays serving openly, or “don’t ask don’t tell.” In that case, there were no stipulations attached to openly gay service members. There was no staggered approach that integrated openly gay troops into units. It was instead done all at once, across the board.

A senior Defense official explained the Pentagon’s reasoning behind the different approach: “You’re talking about personal choice of behavior vs. physical capability. And they were already in the units. If you take a unit that’s never had women before, that’s quite a culture change.”

Women already serve in combat support roles and have been killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan but this is the first time they’ll be placed intentionally in the line of enemy fire. It was a fait accompli, though. Ever since DADT was repealed, activists had eyed this as the next frontier in equality inside the military. The Pentagon bowed to pressure early last year by allowing women troops to serve in non-combat roles as part of battalions, which put them closer to the front lines. More than one poll has showed majority support for letting women serve in combat, and other allied militaries, like Australia and the IDF, already make some combat roles available to women. The question wasn’t whether this might happen, it’s how broad the new policy would end up being. Volunteers only or mandatory service for all women who are fit to serve on the front lines? Special Ops duties too or are the physical requirements too onerous? Israel has already lowered its standards for female combat troops, although allegedly that has less to do with physical challenges than with women wanting to serve in more tech-heavy roles.

Not all vets support the idea, of course. Here’s a piece written last year by a former infantry officer making the case against women infantry on grounds that close combat will simply prove too brutal for many of them; here’s another by a female officer who warns that long duty in the field is likely to prove too physically grueling. The X factor at the moment is what Chuck Hagel thinks, but I doubt we’ll ever really know: Even if he disagrees with the policy change, there’s no earthly way he didn’t already sign onto it behind closed doors with Obama as a concession to Democrats, who are giddy about the change and lukewarm about his nomination. He’ll rubber-stamp it whether he wants to or not.

Exit question for opponents of the Iraq and/or Afghanistan wars: How excited are you to have a giant new pool of soldiers available to make future wars that much more feasible?

Update: Panetta gets the coveted thumbs up from Kelly Ayotte, whose brand as a hawkish Republican woman senator will provide O with some political cover.


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Comment pages: 1 5 6 7

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 10:32 AM

You’re exactly right.

kingsjester on January 24, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Just so they’re told:
“There’s no crying in combat!”

dentarthurdent on January 24, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Page 7, still not one good reason.

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 10:45 AM

blink on January 24, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Your questions are too hard for chump. It will now put you on its ignore feature.

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Maybe chump thinks there’s nothing wrong with training our women to kill.

Cleombrotus on January 24, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Should they no longer train men to kill, then?

bmmg39 on January 24, 2013 at 11:15 AM

This issue is easy enough to understand. Similar to that of female firefighters: if standards need to be lowered in order for women to serve in combat, then we should not do that. If certain women can meet the physical requirements, then they should be able to serve. I’m just getting awfully tired of this paternalistic attitude that suggests that “the battlefield is no place for a woman,” while saying that it’s far more acceptable for any man to be shot at, captured, tortured, and killed. I long ago grew tired of my entire gender being treated as expendable.

bmmg39 on January 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM

I long ago grew tired of my entire gender being treated as expendable.

bmmg39 on January 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM

You’ve never known any such thing, whiny little girl, so quit blubbering about “paternalistic attitudes”. We are in fact trying to KEEP you from being expended in the useless overseas wars perpetuated by our current POTUS.

Go live in an Arab nation for a few years and you’ll know what being treated as expendable is like.

MelonCollie on January 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Your choice of insults sort of demonstrates my point.

bmmg39 on January 24, 2013 at 11:45 AM

blink, you understand this interweb stuff way better then me. When I click on this nom’s link it takes me to a site with the exact same entries as another site that is linked thru someones elses nom. Why is that?

bmmg39 on January 24, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 12:13 PM

blink, granted the visual formatting on the two sites is different but the entries are identical. I am looking for the other nom link so you can see both.

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 12:15 PM

bmmg39

Let me know when one female is able to pass Seal Team at say Little Creek, let me know too how much “Lance Armstrong” type meds that person used.

Some need to use their brains for more than a hair pin rack or give a moment of reflection on low altitude night halo jumps by a 12 man team into a triple canopy jungle 50 miles into the other peoples woods for a 10 day recon with every unit from the other sides best units out trying to kill every last member of said 12 man team.

Dumb is not the word.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

I want to see if they actually have the women do hand-to-hand combat and pugil stick training against men.
If not, what happens on the battlefield when the Taliban or al qaida don’t agree to line up the combat faceoffs with us according to gender?

dentarthurdent on January 24, 2013 at 12:42 PM

It boggles my mind to see idiots like chump oblivious to the fact that women captured in combat will be raped, tortured and, eventually, killed.

kingsjester on January 24, 2013 at 12:46 PM

It appears that chumptreats (whatever) is the token liberal, marxist here. Defender of all that is Uber Liberal. He/She/(or Both) has no retort for what will soon become facts: (1) quoats will be set, (2) Senior Officers will be graded on how they performed in filling quotas, (3) physical standards will be dropped to meet quotas, and (4) our military will be degraded. I suppose chumptrash is looking forward to the day when the “transgendered” can serve openly so he/she/whatever can serve.

olesparkie on January 24, 2013 at 1:04 PM

It boggles my mind to see idiots like chump oblivious to the fact that women captured in combat will be raped, tortured and, eventually, killed.

kingsjester on January 24, 2013 at 12:46 PM

The Obama-bot in me will repeat the “fair share” mantra. “She got her fair share.”

An older lesbian military acquaintance of my wife’s on Facebook was quick to sound off about how she wishes she were younger so she could go “bust some balls” on the front-line. I wonder. Do Muslim’s rape lesbian’s? I’m guessing “yes” to that. Too bad she isn’t younger. Then she could, finally, get her “fair share”.

Carnac on January 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

No way to tell which is the more f’n stupid, this crap of putting American females into the war meat grinder as little more than bait or this even more stupid CO2 war.

The commie Democrat Party is a flat ass nut case cult now.

If they get one bit more power they will get half the worlds populations killed for not one good reason.

Beyond nuts.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 24, 2013 at 1:23 PM

It boggles my mind to see idiots like chump oblivious to the fact that women captured in combat will be raped, tortured and, eventually, killed.

kingsjester on January 24, 2013 at 12:46 PM

You are too kind to call them idiots and oblivious. They aren’t. They just don’t care, or maybe I’m being too kind and they are even more warped by the evil they embrace and that is exactly what they want.

It is time we stop giving these people a pass as somehow oblivious or incompetent. They aren’t. They know exactly what they want and are doing and some of them are quite capable, unfortunately. They fully embrace evil. We need to know our enemy.

pannw on January 24, 2013 at 1:49 PM

This issue is easy enough to understand. Similar to that of female firefighters: if standards need to be lowered in order for women to serve in combat, then we should not do that. If certain women can meet the physical requirements, then they should be able to serve. I’m just getting awfully tired of this paternalistic attitude that suggests that “the battlefield is no place for a woman,” while saying that it’s far more acceptable for any man to be shot at, captured, tortured, and killed. I long ago grew tired of my entire gender being treated as expendable.
bmmg39 on January 24, 2013 at 11:18 AM

What are you talking about, expendable? And acceptable?

In the real world someone has to kill and someone had to die. You think it’s a matter of GENDER EQUALITY?

Cleombrotus on January 24, 2013 at 1:51 PM

bmmg39 on January 24, 2013 at 11:15 AM

You, too, nimrod. You think it’s something men LOOK FORWARD TO? You think that every one of our men who have done what their duty and necessity required of them don’t wish that they HADN’T had to?

This isn’t some college bull session topic for comfortable times, goofy.

Cleombrotus on January 24, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Still not one good reason………….

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 4:48 PM

Tom Woods put it marvelously:

The lifting of the ban on women in combat is a great victory for equality, say the “progressive” feminists I am reading everywhere today.

I translate this as: “Hooray for equality! Now we can all slaughter foreigners together, as equals! Ah, sweet equality. Now I, too, may be suckered by lies and propaganda into joining the front lines against impoverished people who are no threat to me. Long live equality!”

Dante on January 24, 2013 at 5:39 PM

I think men should demand to have babies. After all, it isn’t fait that only women can. I’m sure medical science could rig up something to accommodate them.

Alana on January 24, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Lew!!!

Bmore on January 24, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Dante on January 24, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Must be your lucky day. In your smarmy liberaltarianism you made a good point – why do women WANT to be ‘equal’ when ‘equal’ means “being shipped off to a useless occupation under Obama?”

Seriously, have they all lost their minds? Who WANTS to be a part of that?

MelonCollie on January 24, 2013 at 9:05 PM

Check back through the thread and read the case study the Canadians recently experienced. The spent millions of dollars on 60 female recruits and ended up with ONE combat soldier. Do you like those economics?

blink on January 24, 2013 at 11:59 AM

The L.A. Times article didn’t seem to mention why training a female recruit cost so much more. I’d get at the root of that problem and try to cut waste, just like we (should) do everywhere else.

You, too, nimrod. You think it’s something men LOOK FORWARD TO? You think that every one of our men who have done what their duty and necessity required of them don’t wish that they HADN’T had to?

This isn’t some college bull session topic for comfortable times, goofy.

Cleombrotus on January 24, 2013 at 1:55 PM

It’s strange that you see the front lines as a duty and necessity for men, and, then, when someone suggests that women be able to serve there, you think women would want to serve there just for fun.

Or are you just missing the point of this whole thread?

bmmg39 on January 25, 2013 at 8:50 PM

What are you talking about, expendable? And acceptable?

Cleombrotus on January 24, 2013 at 1:51 PM

This:

The idea of our daughters, wives, mothers, and sisters dying in battle should sicken us.

Cleombrotus on January 23, 2013 at 7:47 PM

If the idea of our daughters, wives, mothers, and sisters dying in battle should sicken us, then equally so should the idea of our sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers dying in battle. No more, no less. If the former sickens you more than the latter, then you’ve decided that men are more expendable.

bmmg39 on January 25, 2013 at 9:01 PM

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