Earlier this month, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee announced plans to open seven currently male-only, direct combat jobs to women by spring of 2016.
While I commend the Air Force for this initiative, I first want to point out that women in our armed-forces have been in combat situations from the beginning. Whether as nurses or in other positions, women have been serving in combat and have sacrificed just as much as our male counterparts.
I am excited that these currently male-only direct-combat jobs will be open to women. Today, only seven jobs in the Air Force are closed to women to include special tactics officer, pararescue, tactical air control party (TACP), combat rescue officer, combat control team, special operation weather officer and enlisted.
Other service branches have already begun implementing plans to integrate women into direct-combat jobs by January 2016.
It has been nearly two years since then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered that all combat jobs be open to women by 2016 or explain why any must remain closed. In addition, the Pentagon lifted its ban on women in such roles in 2012.
While the ball has been slow to move, progress is finally being made to allow women the full opportunities to serve our country that they have long-deserve.
I have listened to many reports recently that give snapshot stories of women at the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course, and they are having their abilities questioned. It is as if their capabilities are on trial in the media, as well as at boot camp. Once again, I return to my first point: women have been serving in combat situations for years.
Women make up 15% of the 1.3 million active-duty members. With declining enrollment in enlistment, opening equal opportunity within the service for current women in the military and future female enlistees will only benefit the armed-forces.
Brigadier General Carol Ann Fausone (ret.)
General Fausone began her military career in the U.S. Air Force, and ended her service as the first female Brigadier General in the Michigan National Guard’s history. Today, she continues to help veterans and their families nationwide with her small business, The Veteran Advocate, LLC.
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