Four U.S. servicewomen are challenging the Defense Department’s long-standing glass ceiling rule that has prevented women from ground combat positions in the military.
The women, along with the Service Women’s Action Network, filed a federal lawsuit in late November in order to get the rule overturned, which would open up thousands of more positions for women in the military.
The Defense Department and the federal government have debated for years about how to accommodate women in the military, and have recently loosened some policies. According to NBC news, two female second lieutenants, in fact, were admitted this past year into the grueling Infantry Officer Course, which is a 13-week rigorous training camp service members must complete before becoming Marine ground combat leaders. Neither was able to complete the course, but they were able to make history as the first women admitted to the program.
The four women involved in the lawsuit have all completed tours in Afghanistan or Iraq and served alongside infantrymen; some have even been caught in direct combat situations during their tours. They’ve experienced battles, some have even led Marine Corps Female Engagement Teams (FET), and they’ve proven their worth just like every other man.
Yet, due to the Defense Department’s rules, the 1.4 million active female military personnel — 14 percent of the military — are prohibited from more than 238,000 ground combat positions.
The choice to serve in ground combat missions is an admirable one that requires a great amount of hard work and sacrifice — but it’s a decision that should be made by an individual, and not the Defense Department.