North Texas Daily

Combat law sparks discussions

Combat law sparks discussions

February 11
21:41 2013

Olvia Sylvain / Intern

The U.S. military announced last month that it is ending the policy excluding women from combat.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the official announcement to end the exclusionary policy, but the changes will not immediately go into effect, said Marilla Cushman of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

“Services will be under extensive review until 2014,” Cushman said, “Some units will have to present their argument as to why women should not serve in that particular unit.”

Director of the UNT Veterans Center Tockie Hemphill said she believes the decision has been a great source of conversation and education.

“One of the great things about this is that it is debatable and you get to hear many different opinions about it,” Hemphill said.

By May 15, each unit must create a plan of action to set standards and requirements for each job and report back to Panetta. Whoever meets the standards, man or woman, can serve in that job.

The recent decision has opened up many jobs to women in the military and will allow for more gender-neutral armed forces. Several units within the Army, Marines and other branches of the military are now open to women. The Navy had already begun allowing women to serve on submarines months ago.

“Women’s roles in the military have been evolving over the last thirty or forty years,” Cushman said. “I think it’s a great thing for the military and the nation.”

Criminal justices junior George Montgomery, a 2nd class petty officer in the Navy, said he feels people should be able to fight in combat regardless of their gender.

“If a woman wants to take a rifle and protect the country like a man, I don’t see a problem with that,” Montgomery said.

As of now, more than 200,000 women serve in the military, according to

Many women have already engaged in combat, but the previous ban prohibited them from formally serving in different units, including special operations.

Even if the ban may not ease the physical requirements for certain positions, it will allow women to compete for positions with their male counterparts.

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