Cap't Sara Rodriguez of the 101st Airborne Division walks through the woods during the expert field medical badge testing at Fort Campbell, KY. on May 9, 2012 (Kirstin M. Hall/AP)
Well there it was in this morning's newspaper headline, "Women to get combat role." [i]
Sometime today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will announce the lifting of the ban on women in combat. A Defense official characterized it as "opening up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to them".
Implementation is to be done as "quickly as possible" according to a military official but it will take some 3 years before all the services can fully implement the combat role for women.
Apparently Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin E. Dempsey wrote in a January 9 th letter to Panetta stating, "The time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service."
The question is, why now? Did a light bulb go off in Dempsey's head and instinctively he thought this was the time to lift the ban? Please.
Nothing the Pentagon does is without planning and fore thought, and it's unimaginable that President Obama was kept out of the loop in deciding to announce this at this time.
The military presents this new policy as giving women "equal opportunity". For sure, women in the military have long objected to being excluded from combat roles, which has been an impediment to their being promoted.
Of course there are no qualms from here in giving women equal opportunity. It's long overdue and correct.
But again why is this being announced now? My sense is lifting the ban on women in combat now is simply a numbers game.
It has nothing to do with women's ability to fly combat aircraft or carry a rifle as a combat infantry soldier.
Could it be there's a dearth of men available for combat? "Stop-Loss" demands have forced many male combat veterans to be sent back to war zones time and again even after previously serving 3 and 4 tours.
Maybe military recruiters are having difficulty filling their recruitment quotas with able bodied men?
Use of the National Guard in overseas combat has strained their ranks.
So"the simple solution is, lift the ban on women being in combat roles.