Monday, February 29, 2016

Women Stepping Out Into the Battlefield

Up until recently, women in the United States military were restricted from certain positions of leadership and in the field. It wasn't until 2008 that Ann Dunwoody was promoted to become the first female four star general. It took her 37 years to reach obtain such a job in the Army. This leads me to question why it has taken so long for a woman to become a high ranked general like Dunwoody. Why are there such few female soldiers that hold leadership positions in the military?

At the end of 2015, the Secretary of Defense, Ashton B. Carter, announced that the Pentagon would open all combat positions to women, no exceptions. This now means that a woman could drive a tank, fight in the front lines, train to become snipers, and even become part of the special forces of the military like the Navy Seals. This is amazing step for gender equality in the military, but this doesn't mean that there will be a dramatic change soon. Despite the opportunities to hold new positions, women still have to pass tasks that could be physically and mentally grueling. They may be so intense that many male soldiers cannot pass.

The Marine Infantry Officer Course is one of the last all-male batalions since all 26 women who have attempted the course have failed. The course is made up of physical and mental challenges spread out 16 miles hwere soldiers set out at dawn carry a 30 lb pack and rifle for tens of hours.  112 women had made it through the less demanding infantry training that has a success rate of 34%. A factor that has to be considered is that a woman's body structure, specifically her hips, makes it more difficult to carry loads twice their body weight. Despite these disadvantages, female soldiers still fight on and are determined to become like their common hero, General Dunwoody.