Combat is no longer something men can exclusively partake in.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the Pentagon will open all combat jobs to women. This has prompted mixed reactions.
Yes, there are physical differences between men and women. But it shouldn’t obscure the opportunity to overcome those hurdles to prove themselves beyond those differences. And women serving in combat scenarios isn’t a newly invented concept. Just ask women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and encounter oncoming enemy fire or IED’s.
If they want to and are physically able, there should be no reason women can’t serve in the same capacity as men. Maybe they’ll bring some better ideas, as women have done in other predominantly male occupations. This is a profound step for the military as a whole to no longer preordain women as unfit or unqualified due to oftentimes misleading gender stereotypes.
That said, opening all combat slots will have little immediate impact because relatively few female soldiers, sailors, and airmen want to serve in combat military occupational specialties.
However, it will make a major difference if another major war re-institutes the draft.
Federal courts ruled during the Vietnam War that the Selective Service could draft only males because the military excluded women from combat roles. Now that the exclusion has been lifted, the justification for not drafting women as well as men no longer exists. Women as well as men should be required to register for the draft when they turn 18. Many would rush to do so since young people have to show they have registered for the draft in order to apply for students loans or federal jobs.
Many women would serve as willingly as men if drafted, but there would probably be some social upheaval as coeds discover they will be spending the next few years in foxholes instead of in sorority houses and mothers with young children find draft induction notices in their mailboxes.
Time will tell whether this ruling has more to do with being politically correct than being about combat readiness and effectiveness.