Senate Defense Bill Would Allow Women in Combat

Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Wingfield, Former WLP Intern

A proposed measure in the Senate’s National Defense Reauthorization Act would demand that the military come up with a plan to allow women in fight on the frontlines. While the House version of the bill does not include the same measure, a separate bill with the same provision is pending in the lower chamber. The measure allowing women in combat could be added to the House bill when it is meshed with the Senate bill. While the Pentagon recently announced that women are now formally permitted to serve in jobs that would put them in the frontlines, such as serving as a tank mechanic or fire detection specialist, the measure is still needed because women may still not officially serve in combat.

As we have written before, “there is no reason to restrict the role of women in the military” since when women have been asked to perform more dangerous jobs in the military they have exceled in their roles. Not only is there no reason to bar servicewomen from serving in combat positions, but the restriction makes it more difficult for women to be promoted to higher ranks in the military since, as the Huffington Post reports, “battle experience is a key to promotion.” As Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) who proposed the measure said,

Women are already fighting and dying for our country shoulder-to-shoulder with their brothers in uniform on the front lines, but without the formal recognition that is essential for them to advance and obtain the benefits they have earned. Just like it was wrong to discriminate against service members because of whom they love, it is also wrong to deny combat roles to qualified women solely because of their gender.

We hope that the National Defense Authorization Act will include the provision allowing women to serve in combat since women should be given the same opportunities to advance in the military as their male counterparts. We will keep you updated about this issue.

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