Leave no woman behind

Allowing women to fight combat provides numerous benefits for the U.S. Armed Forces.

by Hemang Sharma

When a person enlists in the U.S. Armed Forces, the country is counting on its uniformed saviors to get the job done.

Choosing to fight for one’s country is one of the most honorable choices one can pursue. I couldn’t care less about the race, sexual orientation or gender of the soldiers that safeguard our country. This is why I’m glad that women in the Armed Forces will now be able to engage in combat positions. 

The Pentagon’s long-awaited announcement overturns a 1994 ruling that restricted female soldiers from the frontlines of the war, holding key leadership positions, operating certain equipment, indulging with hostiles and ultimately a chance to fully utilize their potential as soldiers.

The origins of the limit were based in notions of strength and sexism. Men are, on average, typically stronger and taller. Most armies of the world, historically, have been led by and comprised mostly of men. Recently, President Barack Obama made headlines by appointing men to key national security positions. But soldiers in the warzones are required to exhibit much more, such as resilience, specialized combat training, problem-solving skills and survival instincts, among others.

We have the best equipped military in the world; we possess better, stronger weapons than anyone; we provide our soldiers with all the necessary training and support that they need. Why policy makers delayed this decision is beyond me. Allowing women who are already soldiers to further play an important role in warfare is sensible and natural. Military leaders should have no reason to doubt their abilities. Whatever the requirements are for being in combat, both male and female soldiers should be trained and tested to exhibit satisfactory results before being cleared for combat by their superiors. Fighting for your country, on any level, should be supported for all genders.

The Pentagon and the Armed Forces should congratulate themselves that although, in essence, this is a late move, it is still a welcome decision. This will further support the fact that women have already been endangering their lives for this country and have spilt blood for American citizens. They comprise 15 percent of the current Armed Forces, an extremely valuable contribution.

The move will ultimately have to address the roadblocks that female soldiers continue to face in the Armed Forces, such as equal treatment, sexual assault and bars from leadership positions.

Before this verdict, women that were serving, even in wars, couldn’t get promotions because of a requirement of combat experiences to be eligible. This decision will only further the necessary visibility women should also have as contributing members of our military forces. I can fill the Minnesota Daily with the alarming sexual harassment nightmare  that the Department of Defense is trying to handle. Having women in combat positions may also be eye-opening in many Muslim countries. In some of these areas, women aren’t allowed to talk to men that aren’t family members. Our female soldiers on the ground can and will be an essential tool to interact and intercept targets.

This decision will raise the possibilities for many young Americans who have traditionally shied away from the Armed Forces. This will tell them this isn’t a man’s world and that they can be just as, if not more, effective.