The Military Leadership Diversity Commission released a report that recommended that the Pentagon change its policies to allow women in combat. The Commission reported that despite official military policy, women’s participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has increasingly included direct combat. The military’s failure to allow women to serve in these positions therefore limits women’s chance of promotion and would ultimately enable the military to increase the number of women in its ranks.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated, “The artificial, so-called exclusion of women from military combat has resulted in the military accepting less-qualified men in its ranks. This has not only limited opportunities for women but has injured the capabilities of the military.”
The report stated that “DoD and the Service must remove institutional barriers in order to open traditionally closed doors, especially those relating to assignments – both the initial career field assignment and subsequent assignments to key positions. An important step in this direction is that DoD and the Service eliminate combat exclusion policies, especially for women, including removing barriers and inconsistencies, to create a level playing field for all servicemembers who meet the qualifications.”
The Commission, established by Congress in 2009, is comprised of senior retired and active military officers. The United States currently restricts women from direct combat roles in infantry positions or in the Special Forces. A 1994 Department of Defense directive banned women from units that primarily engage in direct combat.