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Feminist News


April-07-03

Women’s Numbers in Military Increasing

The number of women serving in the US armed forces has nearly doubled since 1980 and increased one-third since the Persian Gulf War, with women currently at 15 percent, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The opportunities available to women have also increased since the last Gulf War. In 1994, the Clinton Administration lifted the “risk rule” for women in the military, which means that about 90 percent of military positions are currently open to women, according to the New York Times. These jobs include piloting military jets and Apache helicopters, commanding combat military police companies, working as tactical intelligence analysts, and more.

However, women are still excluded from about 30 percent of active-duty positions, and some women feel that more ground-combat positions should be open to them, according to the Monitor. As long as they can perform the physical tasks necessary for the job at the same rate as men, many women do not see why they should be excluded from these often prestigious and advancing positions. Arguments against women in combat, which range from notions of women being physically weaker than men to the idea that Americans could not handle the deaths of women soldiers, have become less relevant in this war, due largely to the changing structure of war and the concept of direct combat. There are no “front lines” anymore, and far-reaching weaponry such as the SCUD missiles used in the first Gulf War have the ability to reach far-off targets, according to the Times. “Any woman who feels she can go out there with a big heavy gun, the more power to her!” said Nina Augustine, an American woman deployed in Iraq, according to AP.

Media Resources: Christian Science Monitor 4/3/03; Associated Press 2/12/03; New York Times 3/28/03