By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
There's one easy way to end the ceaseless debate over women in combat—revived most recently by a New York Times series on the topic. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have placed women into combat a multitude of times, even though Pentagon policy bars them from same. And guess what, they are performing. From Salon.com:
Most of the theoretical arguments against allowing women in combat zones, it seems, are put to rest once women are actually there. Yes, soldiers end up having consensual sex—and occasionally, a pregnant one is shipped out—but birth control is easily available, and romance doesn't seem to be the fatal distraction everyone feared it might be.
There's another argument posed by conservative women: What if women don't want to be in combat? Survey after survey of female soldiers shows they want the opportunity because in the military it's just about the only way to get promoted to high rank.
Physicals are required for all servicemen and women. A gender-neutral physical should be set up and required for all. Some 30 percent of men fail the physical. They are thereby barred from combat (and service). It'd be easy enough for the Pentagon to set up two levels of passing: a higher level of strength for combat, and a lower one qualifying men and women for combat-related, but not combat positions. Problem solved (although I know you readers will poke all kinds of holes in this proposal).