Pentagon Chief Leon Panetta has removed the ban on women...

Pentagon Chief Leon Panetta has removed the ban on women serving in combat roles. The ban removal was reportedly recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, overturning a 1994 rule keeping women out of ground combat units. Credit: Getty Images

In response to “Women in combat might force peace,” the debate on women in combat rages on, but what most people don’t know is that the battle has been over for some time.

Since Operation Just Cause in Panama in December 1989, when several U.S. Army Military Police Officers, including Capt. Linda Bray, faced combat when securing Panamanian Defense Forces installations, women have performed brilliantly in battle. Their participation in Just Cause was eventually not recognized as combat by the Defense Department because they were not legally allowed to be in combat.

Since that time, many women have advanced through the military police ranks in combat support roles. More than just proving in battle that they are capable, these women and thousands of others endure the same Army training to get where they are. After three mobilizations since Sept. 11, 2001, and after three cycles of rigorous pre-deployment training, I can attest that men and women in the Army train together, in all conditions, including very physically demanding battle simulations.

In the early 1990s, combat exclusions for women were lifted in the Air Force and Navy, allowing women in those services to serve in combat aircraft and on combat warships, respectively. Also, in 1994, rules were changed in the Army to allow women in combat support military police units that could serve on the front lines. That, in essence, began the test that led to the Joint Chiefs’ recent recommendation.

Montgomery J. Granger, Port Jefferson Station

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired Army Reserve major.

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