Guest column: Shattering the brass ceiling

Alex Delaney-Gesing

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that all U.S. military combat jobs will become open to women beginning in the new year. The decision was made as part of a commitment Carter made to “build a force of the future,”  USA Today reported.

While women have served in all branches of the military since the establishment of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act in 1948, they have been barred from occupying combat positions for the majority of the time since.

Following former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s 2013 declaration that military services must integrate females into all jobs by 2016, various branches have already gradually begun to open up combat roles for women. With Carter’s announcement, the integration process will be sped up significantly.

Following a 30-day review period (ending Dec. 31),  the current ban on women will be lifted. All military branches are required to comply with the policy change by no later than April 1, according to Carter.

“Women will be subject to the same standard and rules that men will,” Carter said. “There will be no exceptions.”

Republican congressional leaders in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have already expressed their disdain over Carter’s announcement, claiming the change will weaken the nation’s military strength and fighting capabilities.

This thinking— that allowing women into military combat positions is detrimental to the U.S. military’s strength— is unwarranted. In this day and age, a person should not be denied an occupation based on their race, gender or sexuality. Don’t we, as a society, know better?

An estimated 300,000 women have served as military personnel in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Los Angeles Times reported. Further, more than 10,000 combat action badges and Bronze stars have been earned by female service members.

For years women have fought alongside men in positions that weren’t necessarily ”open” to them. At the front line, it does not and should not matter one way or another what their gender is.

If women perform just as well, and in some cases better than the opposite sex, why shouldn’t they be permitted the same opportunities? Women are finally being given the chance to meet the same merits as men. They have already proven time and time again they are no less courageous or dedicated in serving their country when compared to their male counterparts.

Contrary to what the Republican congressional leaders believe, the standards of the military aren’t being lowered, they’re being raised. And for female service members, the opportunity to shatter the military’s ”brass ceiling” will finally be possible, and the military will be stronger than ever.

Alex Delaney-Gesing is a copy editor for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].