On Dec. 3rd, 2015 Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced all combat jobs for the United States military will now be open for both men and women. This will open up over 230,000 positions for women to now join. The conference, held at the Pentagon, allowed America’s defense secretary to speak to the public about the new plan to integrate women into all areas of the military where they were once prohibited.
The announcement fell the day following the San Bernardino tragedy, setting the tone for further urgency to the commitment of the priority of the military, which is, the protection of the people, according to Defense Secretary Carter. Carter adds, in response to our era, “[the]21st century, that means drawing strength from the broadest possible pool of talent, this includes women”.
The announcement further explained how this new change will be implemented by focusing on the key term, integration. “The integration of women into these new roles will include: mission effectiveness, primary responsibility of defending the country, meeting the high standards of all jobs, complete fairness which means access to every American who can add strength to the joint force” Carter continues,
“Simply declaring all jobs are open for women is not successful integration we must monitor our progress, keep track, leveraging skills and strengths”
While Defense Secretary Carter poured positivity and hope for the new change, responses varied. A report indicated, the United States Marines Corps were the only branch to plead for partial exceptions regarding special areas such as infantry, machine gun, and fire support. Military Times said, “The Marine Corps outlined a justification for that stance by publicly releasing some results of a year-long study that concluded male-only units performed better overall than gender-integrated units.” Carters response, “I believe that we could, in the implementation process, address the issues that were raised”.
Opinions from other sources began to be exposed as talk about the topic grew into the public eye. A survey was conducted shortly after the first announcement towards open combat positions for women back in 2013 by Gallup. The survey concluded, “The large majority of Americans support the Pentagon’s new policy allowing women to serve in combat roles. Both men and women favor this policy change.” recorded the Gallup. The report goes on to conclude that “nearly three-quarters of Americans” insist that given the opportunity to vote they would be for the integration of women in these new fields.
However, after asking several civilians for their opinions on the new decision made by Defense Secretary, the responses varied.
“I mean sure, if they go through the proper training that men do, no cutting corners, then I feel that would qualify women. The only argument against that now is if women being psychologically compassionate but that be said for some men too” – Miguel Lozano
“They should have an equal opportunity to try to be in combat but they will have to be treated just as equally as the men when it comes to physical and psychological challenges.” Adam Sutphin
“Yes. Women should be able to do any job. Why wouldn’t a women not be allowed to do a combat job is my question? “ – Jocelyne Mansilla, UCSD Graduate
An interview with an anonymous female sheriff revealed she was against the new movement now passed. She stated,
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for women to be in the military because men will do things for women to protect them differently than they would protect another man. Most women cannot complete the boot camp standards of men let alone for women. There could also be potential hookups and relationships which are not good. However, I do feel like they should have equal opportunity to do it, but overall I don’t think it’s a good idea”
In order to help with the integration process, many other organizations were reviewed for their efforts for men and women integration; this included the police department. Research by RAND, “an American nonprofit global policy think tank originally formed by Douglas Aircraft Company to offer research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces” (Wikipedia). This research supports the theory made by our anonymous source. RAND reports,
“Female police officers and firefighters at various times had to contend with males harassing, over protecting, marginalizing, and even (in the case of firefighting) refusing to assist women in life-threatening situations.In some cases, males took a paternalistic or overprotective attitude toward women.”
An important factor to take part in the repercussions of the new decision fall on the military personnel themselves. The following include all subjects associated within a military branch as of 2016. When asked if they believed American military was heading in the right direction, these were their answers.
“My concern with this new act is that we are to worried about hurting anyone’s feelings that we aren’t focusing on what’s really important. Being warriors and being the best we can be” – Anon, Corporal E-4
“It’s a career opportunity and as a person, they should have the same opportunity as men regardless of the work” – Jessica Lockwood, SN
Navy Logistics Specialist, Adina Garcia shared her interest in the openings now offered for her. She added that although in her opinion, the new change was a positive one, it was to be held with a great amount of skepticism. Garcia said, “Even though I personally think I would be able to endure most, if not all, of what such a pursuit entails, I just feel I would ultimately be more of a hindrance than anything”.
Marine’s Corporal Arielle White and Lance Corporal Isaac Rodriguez, shared the same blunt attitude of how they felt about the new change to their military regime. Expressing their opinions with intensive language, they speak their minds.
“…God forbid a female has to carry a pack almost the same weight as her for 5 to maybe 10 miles, she will break. ” – Cpl. White
“It’s all about swallowing your pride and knowing what you can and can’t do” – Cpl. White
“I see a lot of bitching coming from this and just a lot of changes because of how government wants to get in our business. we fight and win wars and go to combat. It’s what we do” – Lance Cpl. Rodriguez
The reviews within active participants in the military have been broad. Opinions of several show the concern for the new change and how it will be implemented. A lot of answers to these worries will be addressed with time and progression. Could our American military work in unison with both sexes? Will this be for the benefit of creating a stronger force or in the end a weaker one?
Looking back at the history of the development of women participation in the military can help shine light to hope for how women may lead in this new change. Beginning in 1775 during the period of the Revolutionary War, women began to build their presence in the United States military. Since then, some women have earned impressive titles such as Captain Kathleen McGrath the first women to command a U.S Navy warship or Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester awarded Silver Star for combat action. Since the year 2008, 16,00 women have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and more.
With the push for female integration, Army opened an assessment by allowing women to enlist in Ranger School, “one of the most grueling military courses in the world” according to PEOPLE. The assessment chose a specific group of women to have the chance to endure the strenuous demands of the program. In the end, “Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, a military policy officer, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, an Apache helicopter pilot, became the first women to graduate from school Aug. 21, after spending months alongside men enduring the grueling training” reported The Washington Post.
This new achievement becomes the building blocks to what integration in all fields will look like. A global example of female integration includes an all women combat fleet of Kurdish fighters known as the YPJ. In a four week interview with 60 Minutes, this combat group proved they were more than capable to handle the ISIS problem. Statistics of their progress included recapturing two cities and 400 towns and pushing ISIS 2 1/2 thousand square kilometers.
The Secretary of Defense concluded it was important to look to other examples where full integration has been a positive achievement. The new decision for change is welcomed by his words,
“Throughout our history we have been a learning organization, our people have mastered changed, successfully putting mission and our people first,” said Secretary of Defense Carter
It will be interesting to see what the future holds and where full integration will take the U.S military in the years to come.