Women in Combat

Essay by jabvikara March 2004

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Women In Combat

Since the formation of the Women's Army Corps in 1942, women have held an ever-increasing role in the military. Although primarily assigned to administrative tasks at home, they also served as nurses on hospital transport aircraft carrying wounded soldiers back from the front and in field hospitals set near the front. In recognition of the service of women in the military in WWII, congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act of 1948. This bill allowed women, for the first time, to pursue careers in the military. However, this also imposed several restrictions including what is now known as the combat exclusion laws; including the prohibition of women to serve on aircraft or ships involved in combat missions. The maintenance or repeal of the exclusion is a highly debated topic.

One of the problems seems to be directly in the wording of the restriction: "Women shall not be assigned to Air Force and Navy aircraft or naval vessels 'engaged in combat missions.'"(Wilson

18) This does not have anything to do, however, with the prohibition of women in ground combat units. The Army and Department of Defense has adopted a policy of direct combat probability code and risk rule to limit the likely hood of exposing women to direct combat.

Today, the combat exclusion seems to hamper the military rather that help it. To begin with, the number of women in the military has increased to nearly 11% of active forces (Wilson 18) with the number still growing. This increase has dramatically affected the number of "qualified" members of the armed forces available to participate in military actions. Because the term 'engaged in combat missions' has never been clearly defined, it has been left to the varying services to attempt to fill in the blanks and determine what...