Army women in combat news story

Army women in combat has been a controversial topic for years and it wasn’t until last year the Pentagon ordered that women must have the same opportunities as men to serve combat roles. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said “Removing the ban formally acknowledges the changing realities for women at war, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan”. Karen Arvizu 24 from Los Angeles and 59 other women the past three weeks have been given a taste of what it takes to serve in combat. Women and men have to lift 64 pound missiles and .50-caliber machine guns, all while wearing 70 pounds of body armor. For the first time men and women soldiers are part of an Army study who will be deemed fit to join the front lines. With roughly one if five Army positions considered combat related, commanders are turning to science to find a unisex standard to judge which soldiers are physically capable to hold combat positions in war. David Brinkley, deputy chief of staff for operations at the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis in Virginia said “Some people think the Army is coming up with unrealistic requirements while others believe standards will be lower to let women fight on the front lines. Testing at Fort Stewart and other U.S. bases is turning away from the Army’s normal standard for physical fitness such as push-ups, sit-ups and long distance running as they are not things that happen on the battle field. Tasks such as dragging a wounded comrade to safety or installing and removing the heavy barrel of the 25mm gun mounted on Bradley vehicles are what they will be focusing on with this study. A survey released Tuesday showed that only about 8 percent of Army women said they wanted or were interested in combat positions. Brinkley also said such limited interest is in line with what other countries like Norway have seen when integrating women into combat roles. Coed groups of soldiers set up heavy 120 mm mortars on a practice field Tuesday. The volunteer group includes a mix of combat veterans and new soldiers, but it didn’t take long for the group to gel as a unit. One thing is for sure, it’s not a question of if women soldiers will be on the front line, it’s when.

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