Pentagon Chief opens combat roles for women

4 Dec 2015 | Written by Gaurav ; Edited by Vaneet Randhawa

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said on Thursday that combat roles will be open for women in the US armed forces in a historic move.

Under the decision, women will now be allowed to join all combat roles including special operations groups, Navy SEALs and armory.

All forces now have 30 days to provide plans on how they will implement the policy changes.

In context: US to allow women in war

Overview Women in US forces: Where it all began?

In 1948, the US Congress passed the Women's Armed Forces Integration Act granting women permanent status in the military.

In 2002, the Pentagon opened 1000 indirect combat roles for women in Afghanistan.

However, roles in the infantry, special operations and artillery remained closed to women.

In 2013, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the ban on women in combat and the implementation has been ongoing.

Women in combat: The current figures

As of 2015, women make up for 15% of US armed forces serving in non-combat roles such as as radio operators, medics, and tank mechanics.
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Why women and why now?

Reason Why women and why now?

A nation wide survey conducted by Quinnipiac University in 2014, saw almost 75% of respondents in favour of allowing women in close combat roles.

In 2012, four women officers sued the Department of Defence for "inequality by constraining women from serving in front lines."

There has been increasing pressure on the Pentagon since the "War on Terror", to improve gender equality within the forces.

Issue The arguments against women in war

The biggest issue women face in the forces is sexual harassment.

In 2011, there were 3,347 reported cases of sexual assault in the US Army. More recent statistics are unavailable for public scrutiny.

The other argument is the women are unable to perform physically in comparison to males which may lead to a fall in standards of performance of the forces.

Women warriors in the world

Canada, Australia, Denmark, Israel, New Zealand, Norway and France allow combat roles for women. However, France does not permit women to serve on submarines.

India Women in Indian Armed forces

Until 1992, roles for women in the Indian armed forces were limited to doctors and nurses.

The IAF is contemplating to induct women fighter pilots from 2017.

The Navy is also contemplating combat roles for women; however, no timeline has been decided yet.

A PIL has been filed in the Delhi HC to allow women in the Territorial Army as well.

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4 Dec 2015Pentagon Chief opens combat roles for women

16 Apr 2016US Army ground-combat now open to women

The US Army announced that 22 women would be commissioned as infantry and armor officers under new laws allowing women to serve in ground combat roles.

These women will complete specialty school after their officer training and meet the physical specifications before joining combat roles.

The sweeping directive to allow women in all military roles was announced by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in December.