Women Fight for Combat Rights

Military women challenge combat ban

Women are excluded for 238,000 job specialties based on the Pentagon’s categorical ban on women in combat positions, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Four women officers sued Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, challenging the combat exclusion policy as unconstitutional.

Given the absence of battlefield front-lines in current combat zones like Afghanistan, the ban seems to ignore the realities of modern warfare.

This is particularly true among the women suing.  All four have been in combat overseas and two were wounded.  Maj. Mary Hegar received the Purple Heart after being injured when her helicopter was shot down.  Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hunt also received a Purple Heart after her vehicle was hit by an explosive device during her tour in Iraq.

The women argue the policy is outdated based on today’s battlefield conditions.

The policy makes it tough on women trying to move up the military ranks to top jobs because over 80 percent of general officers in the Army come from combat arms positions, according to the suit.

The lawsuit asks the judge to declare the combat exclusion policy violates the Constitution’s equal protection provisions and to bar the Pentagon from enforcing it.

Case:  Hegar v. Panetta, No. C12-6005

Photo source:  ACLU of Northern California


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