iraqAs people continue to discuss and debate the military policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” (DADT) despite the fact the it’s well on it’s way to being fully repealed, another group continues to face continues discrimination and prejudice in all branches of the military, without very much debate and hardly any media coverage at all. That group is women.

Here are a few statistics taken from an article in the Berkeley Daily Planet.

  • 11 female soldiers have died in Iraq and 28 have died in Afghanistan.
  • Sixty percent of these deaths were due to hostile acts.
  • About 200,000 women have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
  • Women make up 14.6 percent of active duty military.
  • Women attack insurgents with strike fighters and helicopter gunships, machine guns and mortars, ride shotgun on convoys through IED (improvised explosive device) terrain and walk combat patrols with the infantry.

Despite these statistics, women are still technically not allowed to serve in a combat position in any branch of the military.

Last March a report from the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC) recommended that the Pentagon acknowledge the reality on the ground and allows women to be assigned to combat units.

The MLDC has recommended that the, "DoD and the Services should eliminate the “combat exclusion policies” for women, including the removal of barriers and inconsistencies, to create a level playing field for all qualified service members. The Commission recommends a time-phased approach: • a. Women in career fields/specialties currently open to them should be immediately able to be assigned to any unit that requires that career field/specialty, consistent with the current operational environment. • b. DoD and the Services should take deliberate steps in a phased approach to open additional career fields and units involved in “direct ground combat” to qualified women. • c. DoD and the Services should report to Congress the process and timeline for removing barriers that inhibit women from achieving senior leadership positions."

The Department of Defense is currently looking at the recommendations.

Have you ever talked with your daughter about women in combat? Sharing the story of this fight with your own sons and daughters is a great chance to discuss why or why they think women should be able to be assigned to combat units. And also share with your kids that while women here in the United States are not allowed to serve in a combat positions, in New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Israel, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland women can openly serve in combat roles.  You can also visit our a previous post on our blog on the topic which offers a list of discussion questions to use when talking about women in combat with your kids.

As always we salute our sisters in the military and look forward to the day when they can openly serve alongside their brothers in combat.

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