Women in military deserve equal opportunity, training

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last week the Pentagon will be lifting the ban on women serving in combat roles in the U.S. military service.

We can’t say we are wild about the idea of women going into combat. For that matter, we aren’t wild about anyone going into combat. But until someone figures out a way to do away with war all together, wars will happen, and they will have to be fought.

Women who volunteer for military service should have the same opportunities and responsibilities as their male colleagues. When promotions and advancement are often based on combat service, banning women from combat puts them at a disadvantage.

And women who volunteer for the service should get the combat training their male counterparts get. Many women serving in the military in Afghanistan are assigned to accompany combat troops for various purposes, such as interacting with Muslim women whose religious traditions won’t let them even speak to men. These female soldiers, in a place where there are no front lines, are exposed to combat and risk injury from ambush or bombs just like the men. They need the combat training they aren’t getting now to increase their chances of survival.

The change is being phased in over three years, which gives the military time to adjust and to train women for their new combat roles.

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