Guns aren’t just toys for boys anymore

For the first time ever, American women are allowed to serve in the military’s combat positions.

by Martha Pietruszewski

I have pretty bad asthma and probably a bunch of other obscure things that would disqualify me from the armed services. (There are plenty of medical conditions that could do it.)
 
But for my fellow females who aren’t afflicted by any of the hundreds of medical conditions that can prevent you from joining the armed services, there is good news — by early next year, women will be able to join combat roles in the military, something they have never been able to do before. This will open up a potential 220,000 jobs for women.
 
I’m a fan of this for many reasons. First, one could argue that the United States needs a military presence more than ever. There have been whispers that ISIS, the group responsible for many recent terrorist attacks, could be taking root in the U.S. It is possible the recent San Bernardino attacks were inspired by ISIS. 
 
I fully support military protection —whether our protectors are men or women. 
 
I think allowing women into combat roles is also a form of female empowerment. If young girls see women can pass these hard tests, they’ll see that women can do anything men can. We need to work to eliminate gender barriers from society in order to create a more positive future. 
 
Sometimes a change like this one is hard, but given the country’s progress on issues like medical marijuana and same-sex marriage, I’m sure we can all come to accept this development someday. 
 
Ashton Carter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, said this change is important to make sure that the U.S. remains one of the most powerful militaries in the world. That’s a pretty bold statement, but he’s right. Many women are already prepared to meet the demanding standards set forth for combat roles, but we haven’t been giving them a chance to do so.
 
However, I understand that this change won’t solve every problem the military has. It may even increase the prevalence of certain issues. For example, there have been many cases of sexual assault and rape by members of the armed forces. The amount of these incidents could increase as the number of women in the military increases.
 
This is something the forces will have to monitor closely to make sure assault is not tolerated whatsoever.
 
Some say this new policy also comes with a risk of reducing unit effectiveness. Men and women will always have a different build. However, is sheer physical build the most important thing? Or is it the ability to lead a team to success that will set these units apart from the others?
 
Finally, there seems to be disagreement over whether this decision was purely political or actually beneficial in a strategic sense to the military. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to that. I think time will tell if this change makes a difference to our armed forces. 
 
I can say this: If you look at history, there have been a lot of fearless women. I see no reason why that can’t continue in the U.S. military.