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Increase of military combat positions for women strikes interest of Corps

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 23:01

women corps

Aaron Cranford

Freshman sport management major Katie Hass stands in formation while being taught in the Quad.

Women in the military now have the opportunity to move up to the front battle lines with 230,000 positions now available in combat units.

The formal announcement came Thursday as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced women will now be be to serve in front-line combat positions, opening up more than 200,000 positions for women soldiers.

“Females have always been downplayed in the military, especially in the Corps,” said Alicia Immel, sophomore recreation park and tourism sciences major and female member of the A&M Corps of Cadets. “There are multiple outfits in the Corps that do not allow women. I know a bunch of females who want to be Marine officers and the fact that they will be able to have more options is a great thing.”

Women had been barred from serving in combat situations since the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule. In 2012 the Department of Defense reversed some provisions in the 1994 act, allowing women to hold jobs such as tank mechanic and field artillery radar operator near combat zones.

"Women have shown great courage and sacrifice on and off the battlefield, contributed in unprecedented ways to the military's mission and proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles," Panetta said at a Pentagon news conference. "The department's goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender."

Each military department will have until May 15 to submit any positions to the Department of Defense in which women will not be allowed to serve. Panetta hopes for these new plans to be implemented by January 2016.

“I think [the combat unit openings are] a good thing,” said Marisa Powell, senior biological and agricultural engineering major and female member of the Corps of Cadets.

Powell said only 14 percent of cadets in the Corps are females and she believes the lifting of the ban will inspire more women to join the Corps of Cadets.

In a prepared statement, President Barack Obama said he supported the decision to lift the ban.

“Earlier today I called Secretary of Defense Panetta to express my strong support for this decision, which will strengthen our military, enhance our readiness and be another step toward fulfilling our nation's founding ideals of fairness and equality," Obama said.

According to the Department of Defense’s press release Thursday, women make up approximately 15 percent the U.S. military’s 1.4 million active soldiers. Regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, more than 280,000 women have been deployed.

Drake Tobola, freshman history major and female member of the Corps of Cadets, said female cadets have more to look forward to and the new opportunities will bring fresh viewpoints to the military.

“It will definitely open more opinions,” Tobola said. “Now you will have a woman’s opinion and a different perspective. They always say men can do more, but women can also do more. Now there is more opportunity and options for women. It gives female cadets more to strive for, because we can now fight in combat situations.” 

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