Australian Women Now Allowed in Combat Zones

Female Australian soldiers Afghanistan

Australian soldiers, (L-R) Corporal Amanda Wright, Corporal Cindy Veenman and Captain Karin Cann are regulars outside the wire of Multinational Base Tarin Kowt.Image via Wikipedia

It’s official.  Women are now allowed to serve along men in front line combat zones in the Australian Military.  This new plan will be phased in over a five-year period.

What exactly does this mean?

It means that women will be allowed to apply to serve as Navy ordinance disposal divers, airfield and ground defense guards, in the infantry and in armored units, as well as some artillery roles.  This also means that women will be judged in the same manner as men.  They won’t be judged on their gender, but on their ability to do their job … like it should be in the first place.

As of right now, the military created teams of female Marines and soldiers who patrol with their male counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan and interact with local women in ways that the military said would be culturally unacceptable for male soldiers.  Australia is also one of only a few countries in the developed world with no restrictions for women in combat. Canada, New Zealand, and Israel already allowed women to be eligible for all military roles.

While this is a great thing for Australian Military women, the critics however are calling it a “political gimmick”.

According to Neil James, the head of the Australian Defense Association lobby group, thinks that the government is “jumping the gun” on research currently being carried out by defense officials about women’s abilities in the military context.

In the United States, women are allowed to serve in combat zones.  They are allowed to serve as combat fighter pilots, be aboard Navy ships, and have some support roles that are likely to expose them to combat situations.  The U.S. Navy also opened up job positions to women on submarines.  However, the U.S. Department of Defense’s policy excludes women from assignments to units that engages them in direct combat on the ground, but some women have served in combat with ground units in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Currently women are eligible or 93% of roles, including artillery duties and with the lifting of the ban, women will be able to fill-in the remaining 7%, as long as they are physically and psychologically qualified.  And along with combat roles, they will be eligible to serve in Special Forces units, if they can meet the entry standards.

A 2008 armed forces survey found that 85% of female service members had been deployed to a combat zone or drew extra pay funneled to members of the military who serve in dangerous or hostile areas.

What do you think?