Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

After Two Women Graduate from Ranger School- what’s left to debate about women in combat?

SUMMARY: Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine Corps captain and founder of Service Women’s Action Network, writes, “women are ready for combat.” As women have already been serving in combat effectively for the last 13 years during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, women have the capabilities to fight. Since 2013 when the Pentagon announced the rescission of the combat exclusion policy, more than 100 women have passed the Marine Corps’ infantry school and two female officers have now passed Ranger school. Bhagwati creates a succinct analogy that encapsulates the current position of women in the US forces, “not allowing female Rangers to serve in Ranger regiments is like surviving the trial of medical school and being told that you can’t be a doctor.” The most important strategies that Bhagwati calls for are; gender-neutral physical fitness standards, all occupations opened without exceptions, and a fully integrated training program in the Marine Corps.

Jude Eden who joined the Marines in 2004 and is a female combat veteran of the Iraq war, provides a counter-view for the retention of combat exclusion for women. Eden cites higher injury rates, attrition rates and non-deployability as “risks compromising missions.” The focus on mission accomplishment seems to be from Eden’s personal experience on entry checkpoint duty in Fallujah in 2005, when insurgents targeted a convoy “almost certainly because they were transporting females.” This highly speculative assertion seems to be the basis of Eden’s protectionist stance on women in combat.

SOURCE: Anu Bhagwati, August 20 2015, ‘Retire the myths; Women are ready for combat,’ The New York Times,
Jude Eden, August 20 2015, ‘Maintain the Combat Exclusion for Women in the Military,’ The New York Times,

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