Combat exclusion policies should cease for women in U.S. military

Credit: Courtney Wittekind/Contributing Editor Credit: Courtney Wittekind/Contributing Editor

Just this month, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission (MLDC) released its recommendation that “combat exclusion policies” for women in the armed forces be removed.

Though laws that prevent the assignment of women to various areas of the armed forces have been slowly dismantled, there still exist many barriers between women and their desired positions in the armed forces. For instance, women are still not allowed to engage in direct ground combat, and promotion for women is therefore much harder to achieve. Thus, we greet the MLDC’s recent proposal with a hearty, “It’s about time!”

The recommendation was one of 20 changes the commission proposed in a draft of the report it plans to send to both the president and Congress this March. When it was formed in 2009, the MLDC was charged with conducting a
“comprehensive evaluation and assessment” of policies relating to “opportunities for the promotion and advancement of minority members” of the armed forces. Though the commission seems quite insular, with 24 of its 32 members represented as either active or retired military personnel, its members do seem to be quite diligent in conducting their research and progressive in making their recommendations. In addition, the commission focused on multiple issues in its research and even proposed a few practical steps toward achieving its recommendations.

We not only applaud the commission for its rational decision with respect to women in combat, but we also commend it for its policy of transparency: All of the MLDC meetings have been open to the public, all of its documents and papers have been published online, and all of its members have been identified.

It makes sense for the United States’ armed forces to adopt a policy that most of the country holds dear: that minorities should have equal rights and that diversity is a great force toward the achievement of success.

It seems that the work of the MLDC reflects the desire of the nation as a whole, and we can only hope that the president and Congress will embrace the recommendations they will be given in March.