They can vote, they can hold office, and the latest advancement in gender equality means they can kill for Uncle Sam. United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last Thursday that women can now fight alongside men in combat positions. It is more than military readiness and posturing at stake, it is the weakening of the old guard that has for so long dominated our military. The Bulletin welcomes our lady warriors.
Of course there are major implications for the decision beyond civil-military relations. The prospect of across-the-gender-board selective service registration is now a debate likely to be had. There’s nothing new here, though. Proponents of lifting the ban on women in combat have known about this scenario for as long as they have been petitioning. Absent the improbable conflict with a saber-rattling North Korea, a draft is not likely as we reduce our forces in the Middle East.
This gesture by Panetta sets the stage for the advancement of women in the military through the ranks. It gives additional career options to women. So for the time being, allowing women to serve in frontline infantry positions clearly seems more like a professional boon than a war fighting tactic.
The fear that women cannot perform combat duties is outdated and based on unrealistic evaluations of a soldier in the 21st century. It comes as no surprise that women are already some of our best pilots, top tacticians, interpreters and analysts.
They come into the military seeking a personal change and to serve their country. We owe them every opportunity we can afford in that regard.
We are sure there are a decent number of women at Emporia State with a military service history. More than likely, the women who served did so in war time. Regardless of your political inklings, it was these women who volunteered to fight in one way or another. We thank them for their dedicated service.
To those considering service after your time in Emporia, good luck. Let’s hope a shared battlefield abroad will someday translate to parity at home.