Friday, 25 January 2013

Women’s Combat Role ; U.S. Defense Department Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta

by Samuel Ezerzer
Radio show host and Blogger

              Defense Department Expands Women’s Combat Role

This March 21, 2004 file photo shows female soldiers from the US 1st Cavalry join a patrol in Baghdad's al-Jihad quarter. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to lift a ban on women serving in combat, a senior defense official said on January 23, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

The Pentagon has ordered the elimination all formal restrictions preventing women from serving in ground combat and in combat career fields, potentially opening up more than 200,000 jobs that for years have been restricted to men.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that some jobs will be opened up later this year and all billets and career fields across the force should be open to women by the start of 2016 unless the services seek specific exemptions.
Women currently serve in a number of combat positions, including
1. piloting warplanes 
2. serving on ships in combat areas. 

photo credit: Yoni Markovitzki/IDF Spokesperson/Flash90

Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Women make up 14% of the 1.4 million active military personnel., 290,000 women have served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, out of a total of almost 2.5 million in the reserve.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican and Iraq war veteran, has criticized the Panetta, saying "it is totally out of left field. Completely." Hunter said "The question you've got to ask yourself every single time you make a change like this is: Does it increase the combat effectiveness of the military?...I think the answer is no,".
The announcement comes as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta   prepares to leave office. President Obama has nominated Republican former senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Vietnam combat veteran, to take his place.
In recent years, the necessities of war propelled women into jobs as medics, military police and intelligence officers that were sometimes attached — but not formally assigned — to units on the front lines.
The Defense Department plans to assess the new policy in six months.

According to the Army Times, about 30-percent of Army jobs will remain restricted to men.

So should woman go to combat? Yes or No
And do you Agree with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta? 

Australian Defence Force’s

United States Department of Defense

Defense Department Expands Women’s Combat Role
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2013 – Following a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today announced the end of the direct ground combat exclusion rule for female service members.

Click photo for screen-resolution image

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta hands Army Lt. Col. Tamatha Patterson a document he signed during a news conference at the Pentagon, Jan. 24, 2013, to lift the Defense Department's ban on women in direct ground combat roles. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo  

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, joined Panetta at a Pentagon news conference in announcing the policy change.


The secretary also announced that the service branches will continue to move forward with a plan to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.
The change is intended to ensure that the best qualified and most capable service members, regardless of gender, are available to carry out the mission, Panetta said.

“If members of our military can meet the qualifications for a job, then they should have the right to serve, regardless of creed, color, gender or sexual orientation,” he said.
In a statement released following the announcement, President Barack Obama praised the decision.

Plans are underway to change the rule that keeps women out of combat.


“This milestone reflects the courageous and patriotic service of women through more than two centuries of American history and the indispensable role of women in today’s military,” the president said. The decision opens up about 237,000 positions to women -- 184,000 in combat arms professions and 53,000 assignments that were closed based on unit type.

Women are an integral part of DOD’s ability to fulfill its mission, Panetta said. “Over more than a decade of war, they have demonstrated courage, skill and patriotism, and 152 women in uniform have died serving this nation in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
The new policy is the culmination of a process that began last year, a senior defense official told reporters today. More than 14,000 assignments in ground combat units or collocated with ground combat units were opened to women in February.
That extension of women’s roles had a positive impact, Panetta said at the news conference.

“Every time I’ve visited the war zone, met with troops, reviewed military operations, talked to wounded warriors, I have been impressed with the fact that everyone is committed to doing the job,” he said. “They are fighting and dying together. The time has come for our policies to recognize that reality.”
The change ensured sufficient female mid-grade and senior enlisted and officers were in place to guarantee successful integration of junior personnel, a senior defense official said.

The secretary has directed the military services to undertake an evaluation of all occupational performance standards to ensure they are up to date and gender-neutral. Specialty schools will be included in the evaluation, a senior defense official said. The results of this evaluation are to be submitted to the defense secretary by May 15, while the entire process is to be completed by Jan. 1, 2016.
“We are all committed to implementing this change without compromising readiness or morale or our warfighting capabilities,” Panetta said. “For this change in policy to succeed, it must be done in a responsible, measured and a coherent way.”

Occupations and assignments will open incrementally, but “as expeditiously as possible,” a senior defense official said. “We would fully expect that … we will open positions throughout the year as we go forward,” the official said.
Once the policy is fully implemented, military occupations will be closed to women only by exception, and only if approved by the defense secretary, a senior defense official said.
“I fundamentally believe that our military is more effective when success is based solely on ability, qualifications and on performance,” Panetta said.

“In life, as we all know, there are no guarantees of success,” he added. “Not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier. But everyone is entitled to a chance. By committing ourselves to that principle, we are renewing our commitment to the American values our service members fight and die to defend.”