You’ve probably already heard the news that US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the military’s ban on women serving in combat. This lift comes with the blessing of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
This means that some 230,000 jobs will be open to women—high paying jobs and that matter if the career ladder matters. Being excluded from combat has been the main barrier to having women qualified to assume command roles (which they call the brass ceiling).
As far as I can tell, the majority of the people complaining about this move are civilians and old veterans. Fact is, women have been serving on front line jobs as medics, military police and intelligence officers. They were and are in just as much danger as men. But since they’re not formally serving in combat, they lose out on pay and advancement opportunities.
To this day, the Navy was the best job I ever had on the equality front. Promotions are determined by the “needs of the Navy” and those best qualified to meet them. Every year, the Navy determines how many postions they have available at each rank and rate (your job). Each sailor (what we’re all called whether or not we’d ever been on a ship) is measured on these four criteria:
- their score on the test based on theor job at their level (rank and rate)
- their score on the test based on their rank (military leadership)
- their time in service
- their annual review
All of these metrics get consolidated into a number and all of the people in a given rank and rate are ordered by number. If the Navy has 100 open positions for an E5 sonar tech, for example, then the top scoring 100 E4 sonar techs get promoted to E5. What could be more fair?
There seems to be some chatter about the women not being qualified…Obviously, I feel that women who are suited to this should do it and no exceptions should be made for women who cannot. I feel the same way about men. I think that people are either suited to a job or not—that they have the physical ability, technical aptitude, and emotional desire to do a job. If they have these, they should not be denied. And if they don’t, they should try something else.
I also believe it’s wise to use the strengths each person has to offer to meet the needs of a given project or mission. Sometimes, brawn isn’t what you need. Sometimes, people are exceptionally good at using their brains to make up for brawn. Many positions in today’s military require a both.
I personally would not want to be in the infantry. I would have loved to have served on a submarine. (Sub service was opened to women a couple of years ago on a limited basis.) I served at Subase Pearl Harbor and was completely fascinated with subs. All subs are considered a combat duty station no matter what the boat is doing at any given time. And you get pro-pay (more money) for being sub-qualified, whether or not your current duty station is a sub. And sub sailors get pampered (they’re the “elite of the fleet”). And the chow is good.