The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Campus veterans share thoughts about women serving in combat

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made history last week when he announced that the Department of Defense’s 1994 ban prohibiting women from serving in combat had been lifted.

The decision opens up 238,000 new positions for women. Representatives from each military branch have until May 15 to turn in implementation plans and until Jan. 2016 to make cases for retaining certain positions exempt for women.

“I’m pretty sure some men are not going to be comfortable,” said Krishna Flores, 27, veteran and senior public health promotion major. “Times are changing. (People) see women are a valuable source in war.”

A “risk rule,” developed in 1988, said that if women are at risk of exposure to hostile fire, capture or direct combat they can be excluded from noncombat units as long as the severity and duration of the risk is greater or equal to that of combat unit positions, according to Women in Combat: Issues for Congress, a report issued by the Congressional Research Service,.

The “risk rule” was later deemed inappropriate in 1993 from a memorandum written by then Secretary of Defense Les Aspin.

Aspin established an Implementation Committee to create more jobs for women in the military branches, he ironically implemented a policy that limited female involvement.

The committee was formed after two scandals. The Tailhook Scandal, an event that took place in Las Vegas, was when 83 women accused more than 100 U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps officers of sexual harrasment at a four-day aviation symposium hosted by the Tailhook Association.

A woman named Barbara S. Hope, former United States Assistant Secretary of the Navy, created an ad hoc committee reevaluating women’s roles in the military in lieu of the 1991 Tailhook Scandal.

Flores, served in the Marine Corps between 2004 and 2008, and was stationed in Japan. She then volunteered to go to Iraq in 2005. She is now an E4 Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps.

She was augmented to the military police unit where she provided convoy security, did vehicle recovery and escorted Equipment Operation Demolition. She understands that there are definitive standards of engagement but thought she saw a lot of action while in the service.

She said that even though she wasn’t technically on the front lines she considers people shooting at her a form of combat.

“Women have been able to communicate better with locals,” Flores said. She added the culture of the people make them more receptable to women than men.

One of Flores’ concerns is that in the military one out of every three women are sexually assaulted. Former Marine Corps sergeant David Guzman, 27, agreed that this issue is certainly a problem. “As a male it’s a natural instinct to protect the female. In a combat environment it’s essential to be focused,” Guzman said.

Guzman, junior business management major, suggested that the military provide training that focuses on women and men interacting in a combat environment.

Guzman also said that female presences already cause a problem within the unit. He said that the men start making connections with the females and if it’s a high ranking officer, the officer may sometimes give out unfair punishment if he’s getting jealous. “The camraderie is broken up. It fees like that equality isn’t there anymore,” Guzman said.

Flores knows that consequences will come with the decision and it will take a while before the decision is widely accepted, but is still optomisitc about the situation.

Junior publich health major Laura Hurtado, 32, is currently serving in the Army in the medical core. “I feel like it’s a good thing. It takes a tough chick to do it. Good for them,” Hurtado said.

Abril Solis, 22, senior political science major, is a cadet in the ROTC program. She enlisted on June 1, 2009 to the Army National Guard and is currently an E4 specialist. After graduation she will be a second lieutenant. During the summer she’ll be in a one month training session that will decide if she is placed in active duty, the reserves or National Guard.

When asked about the ban on women serving in direct combat being lifted, Cadet Solis said that it will be interesting to see how women will perform under combat roles.

Cadet Solis said that if she felt like she was at a place in her life where she was physically fit and mentally ready she would like to serve in the combat roles that are now being opened up for women.

She went on to say that she doesn’t want the physical standards for men and women to be different. “That’s the cool thing about the military. Your performance speaks a lot about who you are and what you’re capable of doing,” Cadet Solis said.


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