There have been mixed reactions to the plan to permit women to serve in combat roles in the military. Generally, the reaction has been positive to drop the current policy of limiting roles women in the military may engage in, especially in infantry combat situations.

If women want to serve in combat as infantrywomen, fighter and helicopter pilots, and other roles, in other words, if qualified, they should be allowed to serve. They already constitute 14 percent of our military, and have and are serving in combat zones. Some have died from being in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is not only the physical rigors of serving in combat with the infantry, but living conditions present a challenge. Some women want that challenge. Not being allowed to serve in direct combat roles has hindered women, especially officers, from gaining promotions, it has been reported. The physical requirements in training, especially for units such as the SEALS and officer training courses, may prevent some women from making the grade. Experiments have been made and some women didn’t fare too well in the tough training requirements.

Women have served with distinction in many roles in the military. They have proven to be “good soldiers” in support positions. Women in the military also have demonstrated leadership equal to that of men, and, probably in some cases, better than men in some situations.

One area of concern is the treatment women may be given if taken prisoner. We have had wars in which the GI on the front lines feared capture as much as being killed. Then you have situations when there are lulls in the fighting and our own male troops could present a challenge to women. Those problems have existed in training situations and there is a major investigation ongoing in the Air Force right now about sexual misconduct.

We have women in the military who want to serve in combat. If they are qualified, they should be given that opportunity.