Women in Combat
January 17, 2005

I recently heard from a female soldier who feels betrayed by the Army. Calm but justifiably angry, the soldier said she is being assigned to a forward support company that will “collocate” with the Army’s new, modular infantry/armor land combat battalions. This is a serious change in policy, unfair to male and female soldiers alike.

Under current regulations, women cannot be forced to serve in smaller direct ground combat units such as infantry or armor battalions, or in companies that collocate with them. If the Defense Department wants to change these rules, law requires that the Secretary must notify Congress no less than 30 legislative days in advance, when both Houses are in session. Despite the “collocation rule” and notification requirement, the Army is unilaterally assigning women to previously all-male forward support companies in its new “unit of action” land combat teams, key to “transformation” to a lighter, faster force. . . Read More

December 8, 2004
Current Defense Department regulations, which were established by then-Defense Secretary Les Aspin on January 13, 1994, exempt female soldiers from assignments in smaller direct ground combat (DGC) units that engage in deliberate offensive action against the enemy, and from units that collocate with them. The Army submitted lists of positions to be opened or closed under the Aspin rules, and they were approved with a memo signed on July 28, 1994, by Aspin’s successor, William J. Perry. Since that time career fields below the brigade level in the infantry and armor have been designated under the direct combat probability coding (DCPC) system to be “P1,” meaning all male. Military occupational specialties (MOSs) coded “P2” remain open to both male and female soldiers. . . Read More

November 22, 2004

Recent news reports about the unprecedented roles of female soldiers serving in Iraq have generated many inquiries about the issue of women in land combat. Should female soldiers be assigned to units that engage in direct ground combat, and if not, why not?

The 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces conducted the last major study on the feasibility of assigning military women to close combat units. In the course of that comprehensive process, the commission compiled a huge body of testimony and documentation on many issues related to the issue of women in combat, ranging from physical capabilities and deployability to interpersonal relationships and cultural questions. Most of these issues remain valid today. . . Read More

November 18, 2004

Selected Findings - 1992 Presidential Commission

Following the first Persian Gulf War in 1990-91, Congress considered legislation that would permit women in the military to serve in combat units, starting with combatant aircraft. Following a Senate hearing in July 1991, Congress repealed women’s exemptions from combat aviation, and established a $4 million commission to conduct a study of what that would mean. . .

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February 6, 2004
A new development in the story of former POW Pfc. Jessica Lynchshould give pause to anyone who promotes the assignment of female soldiers in or near direct ground combat units.

In the fall of 2003 American doctors who examined Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch after her rescue from Iraq confirmed that she had been brutally sodomized by Iraqi thugs. The abuse reportedly occurred shortly after the violent ambush of the 507th Maintenance Uniton March 23, 2003, during a three to four hour period when Lynch was unconscious. (See “Jessica Lynch Reality Shatters Amazon Myths,” at link posted below.)

On March 23, 2003, Al Jazeera TVbroadcast a video of five frightened POWs and the bodies of several American soldiers, some of whom appeared to have been executed point-blank. Now we know that a second videotape was produced somewhere in the same building. According to NBC and other news reports, the building served as a headquarters for Iraqi fedayeen and also included a small medical facility. MSNBC reporters who inspected the property later found a metal bed, car battery, and electrodes there—devices commonly used for purposes of torture. They also found the bloodied uniform of a female American soldier. . . Read More

See previous articles on this topic here:
More background information and historic documents on this topic may be available in the 'Essential Resources' section of this website, or in a previous edition of CMR E-Notes, archived here.