Elite Female Units May Open Doors to Special Ops

Cultural Support Teams breaching restrictions on women in combat.

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"[The military has] employed women in this war as the pointy end of the wedge," she says. "Once you start pushing that wedge, you're absolutely not going back."

Even after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where a female presence is tactically necessary, an already strained military would not turn away able and capable troopers, she says, particularly those who can serve as translators.

"Afghanistan and Iraq were certainly areas in which women were absolutely necessary, and it was impossible to do without their help," she says. "The 'Pandora's Box' has been opened."

All of the service branches met the May 15 deadline for submitting to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel their plans for incorporating women into combat roles. Hagel's predecessor, Leon Panetta, officially lifted this ban in January.

[ALSO: Women in Combat, What Will It Mean?]

The Pentagon has until January 2016 to complete this task, with an ongoing lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union on its heels.

The future of CSTs and women in special operations remains uncertain as the U.S. plans its drawdown from Afghanistan by 2014, though Gen. Thomas confirmed Wednesday his troops will be among those the U.S. leaves behind.

Spokesman Bryant says special operations commanders are conducting research and analysis to "develop and enduring female capability organic to special operations forces," but declined to comment further.


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