The term "combat" needs to be tossed out and a new one used to define the way 21st Century military operations will be conducted. It is archaic, nebulous, and as old and worn out as the cliches and rhetoric used by those organizations, religions, and misogynists who refuse to think in terms of equal opportunity for military women. We have ground combat, aerial combat, naval combat, mechanized combat, missile combat, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical combat and a plethera of combat modes.
"Mano a mano" -( i.e. hand to hand, not man to man, as lazy journalists misuse it,) is almost a thing of the past. I honestly don't think young men or young women should be sent into gut slitting hand-to-hand combat - and I certainly hope that we have scrapped the theories that ground troops are to be used for "cannon fodder".
Perhaps if we scrap the term combat these illiberal and ignoble zealots will have nothing about which to hue and cry.

Technology - not the Charge of the Light Brigade - is the answer.

We have an array of sensors, vehicles and weapons that can be operated by remote control or are totally autonomous. What difference does the gender of the operator make if she or he is trained in that operation? Military planners know that machines will be able to perform many of the most dangerous, strenuous or boring tasks now assigned to people. A fundamental change in warfare is happening right now.
Autonomous sentinels on the ground, in the air and in orbit are probing with heat detectors, radar, cameras, microphones and other devices. Some can even penetrate darkness and bad weather. Targets are being destroyed by weapons from pilotless vehicles. The rapid shift away from people to automation certainly should not limit the training in this automation to men only.
Many new devices will be much smaller and lighter, making them cheaper, more fuel efficient and easier to move. Machines are better at tedious tasks that human soldiers find boring, like guard duty or CQ. Remote technology has to be operated by a real person - but the gender of that soldier, sailor or airman should not be in question.

Women become physicians and surgeons with no restrictions - they are not precluded from performing brain surgery.

Women become civilian pilots with no restrictions - they are not restricted to lower altitudes or single engine planes.

Military women pilots are flying combat aircraft - it only took fifty years.

Everything in modern 21st century military operations can be done by either gender - if and only if - they are qualified.

Yet factions with 19th Century mind-sets, antipathetic groups with agendas that reek of subservience for women, and kakistrocratic politicians all persist in harping that military women do not deserve equal opportunity.

A Wisconsin college student wrote to me and asked this:
" If a woman can physically pull her own, and do the job, why does she not even get the chance. Both of my brothers say that if they were in a fight they wouldn't choose anyone else but me to have their back, so why? They say this, but then they say "oh yeah well it's different in war...women are different". I guess I will never understand. But I would like to know about how someone could go about changing a law like this if you knew. I am extremely upset that I have been put on a different level than my brothers; a lower level. Mentally, I am just as strong, if not stronger than both of them. Physically I am a woman and proud of it. If it isn't too much trouble I would appreciate it if you could give me a little more insight into this law and why in so many ways women have come so far, but not far enough."

I get mail like this every week - young women from junior high to graduate school, asking the same question.

How do you tell them that too many influential people are in a position to keep them from their goals?

How do you tell them that groups with financial backing and distorted perceptions are fighting to keep them from enjoying the equal opportunity offered by every other profession except the U.S. military?

And how do you tell the groups with the "old soldier" mentality, the guys with the negative attitudes, or the women's organizations with closed minds, that the warrior spirit will not be broken by allowing women to compete?

The military of the 21st Century needs the intelligence and enthusiasm of all of the young men and women who choose to serve - and the opportunity to qualify for any career field should be open to them.

The organizations and politicos who oppose this should be censured, dissociated and beamed back to the 1920's - so that their environment will match their attitudes.

Without the intelligence, finances, or discoveries by women we would not have COBOL, Radium, nuclear fission, solar heating, the autoclave, the hydrometer, rabies vaccinations, atomic parity, the hydroscope, the astrolabe, integrated calculus, kevlar, the pulsar, and many, many more significant inventions and discoveries. Military technology needs inventive minds - male or female. The next mission in space will be commanded by a woman! Young American women need to know that if they choose to serve their country they will not be excluded from using their minds in any vocation they choose.

Will you tell your daughters not to marry because of domestic violence injuries and deaths?

Will you tell your daughters not to teach because of school shootings?

Will you tell your daughters not to become religious missionaries or volunteers because of disease and death?

Or will you simply tell your daughters that they have come as far as they are allowed to go because they are women?

And ponder this for a moment -
In the United States there are four thousand - yes 4,000 - female homicides a year!!
An average of 1200 are a result of domestic violence!!
My point? - simply this - military women can fight back!!

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