OPINION: Women should be allowed the combat roles for which they are qualified

Recently, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced that the ban on women serving in military combat has been lifted, overturning the 1994 law that states that women cannot be placed in any combat unit lower in number than a brigade. This new development seems to be sometime in the making, especially considering that women make up around 15-20 percent of our nation’s armed forces.

My own stepmother, whose story is inspiring, joined the Army at 19, made the 10-miler team, jumped out of planes and served in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm. Personally, I believe that women should be able to fight in combat, provided they know some of the unique risks of being captured, such as a presumably increased likelihood of rape. Luckily, women still appear to have a choice in whether or not they enter combat positions.  But for those that want to fight on the frontlines, it is important to remember that they are subject to the same physical and mental standards as any of the men; I believe that this is going to be a pressing issue in the coming years.

It is a largely known fact that most men are physically stronger than most women. There are exceptions, of course, but the general rule is rather consistent. It is also understood by citizens that the job of any well-organized military is to maximize its effectiveness and potential for victory. Frankly, if a woman can’t meet the strict standards that are given for men in combat positions, which I presume will happen quite frequently, I don’t think she should have that position.

Our military should only be concerned with a soldier's capabilities, not their sex. The most qualified candidate should be chosen for the position in question, regardless of if they are male or female. However, the military is not blind to sex. Women already have lower requirements to get through basic training. This, for some people, is a cause for objection.

I believe our society is moving toward an era where political correctness takes precedence over the measurable impact that our decisions have on policy. Because of this need to be politically correct, I expect there will be a push to lower the standards for women in combat positions, especially if many women cannot reach the current standard.

Face it--we don’t want to feel that our military is sexist against women!

Unlike companies that could afford to sacrifice a little bit of productivity for the sake of a more equal demographic, this is the military and any potential lowering of their standards could allow someone unqualified to enter combat and thus endanger the lives of their colleagues. If standards for women are lower than they are for men, or if standards are lowered altogether, it is my opinion that the country will ultimately suffer from this decision.

If, however, standards remain the same and a woman can meet the requirements for the combat position, I have absolutely no problem with her going into combat. I admire her for it. I only feel that the United States should not sacrifice our military’s power just to incorporate women, and am concerned that this could potentially happen with the retraction of this combat ban.

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