Women in Combat

May 13, 2016 • Volume 26, Issue 19
Will they make for a better fighting force?
By Miranda S. Spivack


Capt. Kristen Griest (Getty Images/Jessica McGowan)
Capt. Kristen Griest, right, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver show off their new Ranger tabs after graduating from the Army's elite Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., on Aug. 21, 2015. Along with another woman, they were the first females to complete the school's grueling leadership course. (Getty Images/Jessica McGowan)

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's announcement last December that he would open all combat positions to women in 2016 is among the most momentous military decisions since President Harry S. Truman racially integrated the armed services in 1948. Advocates of gender integration say women are fully capable of performing the difficult and sometimes brutal tasks involved with combat, and they point out that even though women have been barred officially from combat duties in Iraq and Afghanistan, female soldiers have nonetheless fought and died there. But opponents of gender integration say few women can meet the physical rigors of combat. They contend that female front-line soldiers would endanger their units and make them less lethal in battle. As the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force move ahead to carry out Carter's order, big questions remain, including whether young women should be required, like young men, to register for the military draft.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Women's Rights
Apr. 03, 2020  The Equal Rights Amendment
Sep. 23, 2016  Women in Leadership
May 13, 2016  Women in Combat
Apr. 17, 2015  Girls' Rights
Apr. 03, 2012  Women's Rights
Nov. 13, 2009  Women in the Military
May 2008  Women's Rights
Mar. 21, 2008  Women in Politics
Feb. 28, 1997  Feminism's Future
Oct. 13, 1989  Should Women Be Allowed into Combat?
Jul. 28, 1989  Do Pregnant Women Lose Legal Rights?
Sep. 17, 1982  Women and Politics
Dec. 15, 1978  Equal Rights Fight
Jun. 23, 1978  The Rights Revolution
Jun. 13, 1975  International Women's Year
Jul. 05, 1973  Women's Consciousness Raising
Oct. 11, 1972  Women Voters
Aug. 05, 1970  Status of Women
Feb. 20, 1956  Women in Politics
Jan. 24, 1951  Womanpower in Mobilization
Apr. 04, 1946  Equal Rights Amendment
May 31, 1927  The Woman's Vote in National Elections
Defense Personnel
General Defense and National Security
Iraq War
Middle East Conflicts
Military Draft
Military Training
Women in the Military
Women in the Workplace
World War II