Two female soldiers are suing the U.S. military for banning them (and all women) from front-line combat positions, an act which they say violates their right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment — and affects their salaries, promotion and advancement, and future retirement benefits.
The Pentagon said it would open 14,000 more positions for women in February, but none of those positions are in infantry, armor or special-operations units in which the main job is front-line combat. Given that women make up about 14.5 percent of active-duty military personnel — not that small a portion! — and more than 800 female soldiers have been wounded and more than 130 killed in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems grossly unfair to tell them what they are and aren't capable of achieving. "The linear battlefield no longer exists," said Command Sergeant Major Jane Baldwin and Colonel Ellen Haring, the Army reservists who filed the suit.
Although the Defense Department's spokesperson wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, the Army's Chief of Staff, General Raymond Odierno, said the Army might make infantry and army positions unisex and " was considering letting women attend its elite Ranger School." Ooh, how big of them! We hope they don't distract the men by prancing around in short skirts and passing notes in class.
It'll be interesting to see how much pressure it takes to convince the Pentagon that women should be given equal responsibility — and therefore benefit from the same honors, financial and otherwise — on the battlefield.
Image via Burlingham/Shutterstock.