Women on the Front Lines: Saving Lives vs Political Correctness
After 84 women killed in combat and 11 years straight of war, United States Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has made the decision to lift the ban on women fighting in front-line combat. This bold move by Panetta has raised both concern and support. For some, this represents another step away from social barriers, and for others, an unnecessary threat to soldier’s lives. This controversial move by Leon Panetta was a result of strategic campaigning(by certain organizations).
Women, formerly banned from the front lines by a 1994 rule, are now gaining the ability to fight in front-line combat. Leon Panetta, US Secretary of Defense decided to lift the ban and open up front lines of combat to women. Although women have had increasing participation in the defense of our nation in the past decade, this is a historic step which will open up thousands of fighting jobs to women for the first time ever. The implementation of this process will be slow and ultimately last until 2016, giving military leaders time to figure out exactly how they plan to put the new policy into effect and clear it with the Defense Secretary. But combat will not be a new thing for women as women’s casualties account for some “12 percent – or 300,000 – of those deployed in the war efforts in the past 11 years”(Reuters).
The controversy surrounding this decision is heated, as real lives are at stake, but both sides present a convincing argument. One point of view is that most women simply would not be physically able. Many believe that lifting a 200 lb unconscious comrade and running to shelter while carrying all armor and a heavy gun is out of the picture for most women. There is no room for political correctness when soldier’s lives are on the line. Others counter this argument by saying that its simply a matter of qualification. Not all men are discriminated against in the army just because some of them are unfit to fight; so not all women should be discounted because most are physically unable to serve on front lines. Another argument is that women should be allowed to fight in front lines but held to a lower standard. Ex women from the military, who obviously support equality between men and women in the military, applauded Panetta’s decision. In a time of liberation for women, the front lines opening up to women seems unquestionable, but the counter arguments present valid points as well. Debates surrounding the new combat opportunities for women are heating up around the web, as both sides present valid points.
The story of how the ban-lifting came about and happened in the U.S. Government is also interesting. As I know from Government and Economy class, an active citizen has multiple routes to voice their opinion to the government if they feel inclined to do so. These ‘pathways’ are a special aspect of our democracy which can be utilized by anyone who wants to make a difference, or “routes of change in our system of government”(studyblue.com). In this case it wasn’t a citizen, but an organization, the American Civil Liberties Union, which reached out. They “filed a suit in November seeking to force the Pentagon to end the ban on women in combat” and later applauded the Panetta’s announcement(Reuters). In doing so, they demonstrated the usefulness of the ‘Court Pathway’.
In the balancing act between saving human lives and dealing with political correctness, U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, made a bold decision. Granting women the right to fight in front-line combat raises concern for many and applause from others. Despite all the controversy, the American Civil Liberties Union’s success story in using the ‘Court Pathway’ to it’s full potential was a perfect illustration of the impact citizens can make on government decisions.