Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

WIIS Forum Discusses the Removal of the Combat Exclusion- and the limitations of the policy change

SUMMARY: A forum on the integration of women into military combat positions suggests more progress needs to be made to change attitudes and the ‘band of brothers’ tradition. Having women in combat related jobs is not a new frontier – the Air Forces had female combat pilots during the 1990s, and Special Forces had women in Cultural Support Teams during combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The biggest hurdle for integrating women into combat roles, said many of the panelists, is finding gender-neutral standards for combat positions. Those standards, they said, should not affect military readiness, but should directly apply to the job that the standards test for.” Robert Egnell, professor at Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security says, “It’s [the military] about preservation, about maintenance of the existing order and that, to me, is an assumption that the existing organization is perfect and whatever we do to change it can only have negative or no impact if it’s done really, really well.” This attitude pervades debates about women in combat and their integration. It is time to change these attitudes to get true change in the military.

SOURCE: Miranda Leo, April 27 2015, ‘Military women gained since combat ban ended, still progress to be made,’ Cronkite News,

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