Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger
It was just a small news item on the blog site, but it had a big impact on me. It was reported that two female soldiers have filed suit against the Defense Department in an attempt to force the military to allow women soldiers to fight on the front lines along with men. They are alleging that women soldiers are being denied their Equal Protection rights under the Fifth Amendment by the military holding them back from fighting on the front lines in all military jobs.
“Two female soldiers filed a lawsuit yesterday charging that the military’s ban on women in combat is unconstitutional and violates their equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment. Command Sergeant Major Jane Baldwin and Colonel Ellen Haring filed the suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, naming Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army Secretary John McHugh among the defendants. ” MS. Magazine This news item really made me think. Are women really equal if the military shields them from some of the hazardous duties that men are required to complete? Are women able to fight in combat on an equal basis with their male counterparts?
The military brass in the Pentagon has recently allowed women into some of the previous male only job descriptions, but women are barred from over 200,000 positions in the military. “According to the Pentagon, women comprise 14.5 percent of active-duty military personnel. There are 238,000 positions in the military that bar women, according to Vee Penrod, the deputy undersecretary of Defense for military personnel” MS. Magazine It is hard to imagine that women are truly equal when that many jobs still ban women.
While the military has opened up thousands of positions to women, they are still far behind the men as suggested above. I understand the old argument that women are not as physically strong as men, but in this modern military, many jobs require more skill than brute strength. The type of jobs that these two reservists are trying to open up to women will also positively impact on their career advancement and future pensions.
‘ “The linear battlefield no longer exists,” the women said in the complaint, describing as “arbitrary and irrational” the combat restrictions for women. “Woman are currently engaged in direct combat, even when it is not part of their formally assigned role,” the reservists said. Furthermore, the Army has “deliberately circumvented”its own policies by “attaching” women to ground combat units. “There is no practical difference, in terms of the work that servicewomen do, between ‘assigning’ women to a ground combat unit and ‘attaching’ women to a ground combat unit,” the women said in the complaint. More than 200 women reported to brigade combat teams as of last week as the Army begins opening more than 13,000 positions to women that previously were restricted to men, General Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said at a May 16 Pentagon news conference. The case is Baldwin v. Panetta, 12-00832, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia.” Bloomberg
On this Memorial Day, it is refreshing to see women soldiers attempting to bring equality into the military when it comes to female personnel. We tend to forget that women have been lost on the battlefield, just like their male counterparts. “At least 144 female troops have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and more than 860 have been wounded, according to the Pentagon. About 280,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars began.” Bloomberg
Isn’t it time for the military to utilize the many strengths and talents that female military members can bring to the front lines? Do you think the Pentagon should allow women on all the front line positions? If not, how are their rights not being violated? Is it a legal question or is it just something that “society” doesn’t want women to get involved in? How can society prevent women military personnel from being truly equal? What do you think?
On this Memorial Day, I want to honor all members of our military, past and present, male or female. Your sacrifices are truly appreciated!
Additional Sources: Huffington Post