Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Women in Combat: Silver Stars, Combat Action Badges and Casualties | Military.com

Women in Combat: Silver Stars, Combat Action Badges and Casualties | Military.com: In the coming weeks, the service chiefs will likely cite reams of data to support their positions on whether to lift restrictions on women serving in combat jobs.

A couple of the statistics will be hard to miss: More than 9,000 female troops have earned Combat Action Badges during modern combat operations, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and hundreds more have earned valor awards, including the Silver Star, the Army's third-highest valor award.

Advocates of lifting the restrictions argue that existing data show women are already serving in combat and lifting the restrictions would only be recognizing that reality to allow them to prove they can meet the standards for currently closed billets and receive the training they need.

Opponents argue that imposing major social and cultural changes on the military would be fraught with risk in an era of increasing global threats and cite statistics showing that women suffer injuries at twice the rate of men in training.

At his Aug. 20 Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter restated the policy that has been in effect since then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in January 2013 that all military occupational specialties would be open to women unless the services argued for an exception.

"Approximately 110,000 ground combat positions have been opened to women since then, and the Department's policy is that all ground combat positions will be open to women, unless rigorous analysis of factual data shows that the positions must remain closed," Carter said. Some 200,000 combat positions remain closed to female troops.