Reporting Christie Ileto
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Women in the military get the green light to serve in units with direct ground combat.
Christie Ileto has more on what this means for Maryland’s female soldiers.
Women soldiers we spoke to say the playing field is now level, and another glass ceiling has been shattered.
Women soldiers now have the green light for combat.
“I believe that anyone should have the opportunity to fight on the frontlines if chosen to be,” said Sgt. Myoung Fisher, Maryland National Guard.
“I was surprised and kind of excited,” said Capt. Cara Kupcho.
Kupcho has served in Afghanistan as combat support and says the lift on the ban preventing women from fighting in ground combat units is a welcome change.
“It’s a great opportunity altogether,” she said.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta overturned the 1994 rule that limited women’s roles in combat.
It’s an historic change recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff who said earlier this month, “It’s time to eliminate unnecessary gender-based barriers.”
The ACLU national office filed a lawsuit challenging the old policy in November.
“It’s too early to say what happens to the lawsuit, but certainly it’s a huge step in the right direction,” said David Rocah, ACLU staff attorney.
Right now women make up 14 percent of active military personnel, and of those sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, 152 women have been killed.
So what does this mean for female soldiers? Change won’t happen overnight, but it does open up more than 200,000 frontline positions for women.
There have been critics that say women can’t perform the same as their male counterparts on the front line.
“Everywhere you go you’re going to have critics. The Army has set standards. We are given orders, and we follow those orders,” Kupcho said. “To prove them wrong, basically.”
Now a level playing field is a giant leap for female soldiers who have long fought to protect our country.
The services have until May to draw up the plan to open all units to women and until 2015 to implement it.
There are 16,000 women currently deployed who are exposed to combat.