Times are changing and so are the faces of American warriors.
As of Jan. 2, all American combat jobs, minus a few Marine roles, are open to any female capable of meeting the standard.
“Females in other countries have done this for a lot of years,” said Maj. Justin Smith, an assistant professor of military science. “It works. The dynamics have needed to change.”
As a female entering combat arms field artillery — king of battle to be exact — the topic and personal opinions surrounding women in combat roles is a conversation people in the military community enjoy discussing with me. It’s also a topic as hot as a freshly-fired cannon. The most common rebuttal in these discussions is whether or not a woman is capable of carrying a 200-pound soldier, not including the 50 pounds of gear the soldier is issued, out of a firefight.
“Me being a 225-pound man without any gear does raise the concern that, once I have my gear on, and if I go down: will a female be able to pull me out?” said Staff Sgt. James Allred, DSU’s ROTC recruiter. “I would hate to be hoping that she has a big adrenaline rush to do it. That doesn’t mean there are not women who can’t. I know men who would not be able to do it.”
Smith said he thinks the Army examined the physical standards for combat and found women could meet those standards as well as men.
It may be difficult for those dogmatic sergeants who have a hard time grasping grit knows no gender. Toughness isn’t assigned to a sex. What’s between someone’s legs does not define capability.
“It’s not that women can’t do it, it’s that men don’t want to let them for different reasons, and the reasons for every man are different,” said Alex Wheeler, a freshman communication major from Clearfied.
What women like myself can do to confidently face the stereotype against women is to train to standard. I was given a slot to join air assault two years ago, which is a physically and mentally challenging school. I knew what shape I was in and what shape I needed to be in if I wanted to pass, so I trained. People overcomplicate sex and gender in combat. If someone wants to succeed, she will.
One of the only things a service member has control over is physical fitness. Nearly everything else is decided for us. What time we will wake up, what time we will eat, what time we will sleep, where we will live, when we are allowed to go on vacation, and where we are allowed to vacation are just a few of the things that are out of our control.
Physical fitness is ours. No one is there to tell me what to eat or how hard I should be pushing myself on a run or at the gym. So women can challenge the assumption that they aren’t tough enough depending on their determination, not their gender.
“It’s not white or black; I feel a certain way about [women in combat roles] just because I think if women want to do it they should be able to do it,” Wheeler said. “Women can do some things better than men that are more physically demanding.”
The important theme to keep in mind here is capability, dedication and professionalism know no gender.
“I personally don’t care.” Wheeler said. “If that’s what [women] want to dedicate their life to, they will find out real quick what it’s about, and they can decide from there.”