Women such as Malorie Cole will soon be afforded the opportunity to fight along side men as members of the infantry if desired.
Cole, Ferris senior, had previously completed Army boot camp, and she is a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Ferris.
“I didn’t really think about it much, because it was closed previously to women. I would have given it more consideration if given the chance,” Cole said.
The announcement came from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Jan. 24, which lifted the ban on women serving in direct combat roles. In the press conference, Panetta explained that women are often found in combat predicaments anyway. The ruling overturned a 1994 federal decision barring women from any involvement in infantry-related jobs.
The recent decision supersedes last year’s lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the Department of Defense (DOD). The lawsuit included four female service members claiming that gender differences do not outweigh prior demonstrated combat ability during engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. They felt as if their combat experiences were not validated by the military.
The DOD will now determine physical standards for prospective female applicants and will also inquire about gender-neutral accommodations within infantry units. Full integration is tentatively set for early 2016, according to the DOD.
Currently, women are not required to sign up for the Selective Service, commonly referred to as the draft. The answer to this quandary is not yet known.
“For thousands of years the infantry has been a men’s-only club. Women have more physical limits and require more frequent hygiene than males,” a Ferris senior, who asked to remain anonymous, said.
Contemporary objections to women in combat roles pertain to perceived deficiencies in physical ability, increased frequency of rape cases and added abuse handed out by the enemies they fight. Also, the units in question are often removed from basic hygiene implements, and opponents to this new policy believe that women require such amenities to sustain fundamental health standards.
Since 2001, 152 women have been killed in connection to the War on Terror. Female Engagement Teams had existed from 2009-12 to operate alongside infantry units in Afghanistan. Such teams searched Afghan women instead of males completing the task to respect cultural norms in Muslim nations which restrict direct interaction of adult men and women.
The suspension of the program thrusts the responsibility to Afghan security forces, according to the Marine Corps Times.
“In the short term there will be a lot of grumbling and complaining across the board,” Dr. Christian Peterson, Ferris military history professor, said.
He explained that the military has an adequate record of following top level directives, and true acceptance for women in the infantry will require 10-15 years from a conservative approach.
Peterson added that the addition of African Americans in integrated units was a large societal concern in the 1950s, but today’s generation sees nothing of it. History will look similarly on the advent of this policy as well, according to Peterson.
By the year 2016 it is plausible that the U.S. will no longer be entrenched in Afghanistan, and the 10-15 year timeline explained by Dr. Peterson could be toiled in the confines
of this country.