The US has lifted its ban on women serving in combat. Federal officials today announced their decision to allow women to fight alongside men in war zones. Officials say all troops must still meet the qualifications to serve in combat and military leaders must still decide whether some specialized roles will remain men only.
For many, today's announcement is more symbolic than anything else.
Joe Tullbane served for more than two decades with the US Army. The now retired Lieutenant Colonel says he sees nothing wrong with women serving in combat units, especially since they've unofficially been on the front lines for years.
Tullbane says, "We already allow women to serve in the Army anyway, to serve as combat engineers, in the tactical intelligence units and often the combat engineers are in front of the infantry."
Captain Gena Selby is a Company Commander with the Ashwaubenon based 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion. Even though she hasn't been able to serve with a combat unit, she's worked with infantry companies and has faced danger while completing four tours of duty in hostile fire zones including Kosovo, twice in Iraq and most recently in Afghanistan.
She says, "I have not ever had to raise my weapon on another person. I've never been in a position where that was required of me. I have been at an outpost where we received fire and we did have to take cover."
Both Tullbane and Selby, believe the new policy is something that reflects the reality that women are already on the front lines. And by giving women the right to choose if they want to serve with an infantry company or with special forces, Selby says doors will be open for even more advancement.
According to Selby, "My career is tracking well and I've had a lot of opportunities and I expect I'll continue to have those opportunities, but for some people who are just coming into the military they're going to have opportunities I never had."
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