Women In Combat The idea of women in combat is not unusual anymore. Although American women have, for a long time, served as nurses, and as other roles during wartime, they were not officially enrolled in the armed forces until World War I. “During this time women served as clerks and secretaries, some being assigned to translation, recruitment, and other tasks which were usually assigned to men” (Wekesser, 2). The women were not given rank or benefits, and after the war was over they were not allowed to remain in the military. More than 350,000 women served in World War II.
During this war, the military once again encouraged the recruitment of women. They established the Womens Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), the Navy Womens Reserve, and the Marine Corps Womens Reserve. Any of the women in these organizations were given benefits and military rank. “As in World War I, the women served as clerks, secretaries, ..” (Wekesser, 2). “In 1948, a congressional law banned women from direct combat” (Wekesser, 3). They were not allowed in any jobs that were viewed as hazardously close to combat, where the risk of capture is high.
Until the late 1960s, the status of women in the military remained unchanged. It was then when the armed forces began to open up more positions for women. The first women generals in American history were appointed in 1970. By 1976, military academies were beginning to open their doors to women. By the end of the 1970, all of the womens organizations were discontinued; women and men were officially integrated with the military.
During the Persian Gulf War, women were sent to the Middle East to”fly helicopters, service combat, refuel tankers, and load laser-guided guns” (Johnson, 31). They were assigned to battleships, aircraft carriers, and marine support groups. Their performance has led the world to realize that women are extremely useful in combat, and “they brought home their changing role in the military” (Priest, AO1). “In 1994, the Defense Department ordered all the services to open up thousands of combat-related support jobs to women” (Priest, AO1). Today women represent more than fourteen percent of the Armys 495,000 soldiers (Newman).
The times have definitely changed over the years, and much more will probably come. Who knows what lies ahead? Bibliography Johnson, Julie. “The New Top Guns: In the wake of Desert Storm, the Senate clears women pilots for combat.” Time 12 Aug. 1991: 31. Newman, Richard J.
“Army Sex Ed. 101.” U.S. News 11 Aug. 1997. Priest, Dana. “In a Crunch, Ban on Women Bends.” Washington Post 30 Dec.
1997: AO1. Wekesser, Carol, et al. Women in the Military. Greenhaven Press, Inc, 1991.