BOSNIA and Beyond

Since Desert Storm women in the military have been quietly and effectively performing their jobs world wide.

According to the Defense Manpower Data Center over 1,000 women participated in U.S. military operations in Somalia between 1992 and 1994.

In 1995 over 1200 women were deployed to Haiti for peacekeeping duties.

To date over 5,000 women have served in the peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. And our young women and men are still serving in Bosnia - over 6,000 of them.


Visit Task Force Eagle to see how they are doing over there.


More than 170,000 women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, according to the Pentagon, nearly four times the number during the Persian Gulf War. Females now account for more than 15% of the active duty force. Over sixty women have died in service over there and over 450 have been injured.

A woman - Air Force Lt Colonel Eileen Collins - piloted the space shuttle and was named the first female space shuttle commander.
According to NASA, Lt Col. Collins, a 41-year-old veteran of two shuttle flights, was one of 27 women out of 229 people who have flown in the history of the space shuttle program. The veteran pilot launched on the STS93 mission. carrying an X-ray telescope into space. Collins became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle when she flew aboard a mission in February 1995 - the first flight of the new joint Russian-American space program, NASA noted. Her second shuttle flight in May 1997 was the sixth mission to rendezvous and dock with the Russian space station Mir. She has logged more than 419 hours in space.

There are almost two hundred thousand women on active duty today in the military services and the Coast Guard - which is under the Department of Transportation in peacetime.

Yet a few occupational fields still remain closed to women in the military!

In the Army women cannot serve in the following: infantry, armor, cannon field artillery and short range air defense artillery

In the Navy women are excluded from Submarine Warfare, Special Warfare (SEAL) and ratings particular to submarine service such as fire control technician, missile technician, and sonar technician.

The Marine Corps assignments closed to women are infantry, armor, field artillery, security force guard protecting nuclear material, and several positions related to armored, amphibious, assaultunits and fleet antiterrorism security teams.

Air Force positions closed or restricted are Combat Control, Special Operations Forces, TAC Pararescue, and Weather assignments with infantry or Special Forces.

All Coast Guard occupations and assignments are open to women.

Women in the military have withstood the backlash from Tailhook, Aberdeen, McKinney, and other undermining media frenzies and have continued to perform their duties in an exemplary manner - in spite of harassment on the job. In all fairness to the services many new occupations are now open to women that had been closed for years. But the ego threat to the last male bastion of the old style military establishment - not the modern military - still remains.

And to further compound the issue women and women's groups - people who have never spent an hour in the service - never marched a step, never shared the camaradie -never wore a uniform - are running around telling the politicians what to do about women in combat. Centers and Committees for Military Whatever spring out of the woodwork and issue press releases composed on Mars and with the authenticity of aliens at Roswell. Women who have never set foot on a base or run a city block become instant experts on everything from training to strength and endurance. Religious groups, coalitions for chastity belts, anti-feminism outfits, and any airy fairy outfit that has a letterhead and a post office box jumps in the fray to tell the world how women in the military should be treated.

All the while the real women in the military continue to do their jobs, continue to serve their country, and wonder why there is so much hue and cry, signifying nothing, over their willingness to serve. They perform with pride as soldiers, sailors, airman and marines - and if that job is in a combat zone or on the moon - women will do it as well as men. All they ask is a chance to be an integral part of the Armed Services of the United States of America...nothing more... nothing less.

For more of my personal views on whether or not women should be in combat see:
Women in Combat - an opinion

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Unless otherwise noted content © 1996 to date by Captain Barbara A. Wilson, USAF (Ret)