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January 24th, 2013
08:03 AM ET

Rep. Gabbard: 'If women meet military standards, they should be allowed to serve'

According to senior defense officials who spoke with CNN, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected to lift the ban on women serving in certain sectors of the military, including infantry and other front-line combat positions that are currently off-limits.

Many lawmakers on the Hill are praising the Pentagon's move, including Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is one of the first female combat veterans ever to serve in the United States Congress.

Gabbard reacts to the decision on Starting Point this morning, calling it a "major step" that is "finally an official recognition of the sacrifices women have been making for the country."

While acknowledging that military standards "should not be compromised" because of the new policy, Gabbard says that "if women meet those standards, they should be allowed to serve."

Responding to critics who say that serving on the front lines with members of the opposite sex would be distracting, Gabbard says, "in these situations, we’re talking about highly trained professionals and all of the things that differentiate us  fall aside when you’re there putting the mission first and serving as a member of the team."


soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Nancy

    Looks like women have already be serving in the 'front lines'. It's time for them to get the formal recognition.

    January 26, 2013 at 12:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Janene

    I my opinion this is not the same as "integration". Blacks were deemed mentally incapable of serving. Women in combat is physical not mental. Yes, there are some who can out run and out shoot a man. The vast majority myself included do not have the physical endurance to keep up with that "young" Soldier/Marine grunt. Please, do not discredit women who have risen to the rank of GO, Gen Ann Dunwoody for example. She was not combat arms and had a very successful career. There are many other females general that we seem to forget about. Change the conversation from mental to "physical".

    January 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. EMCS/SS Annas ret. 2005

    Women in Combat requires great leadership.. no doubt. I was that leadership that being discussed by the media. The problem isn't the sexual tension we can handle that. It is the physical and the mental well being of young women. Make the physical standards the same for all personnel in combat and I welcome all that meet the standards set by my leaders. I have been part of multiple situations where the young woman didn't like her military situation and was directly told by the female service member that she was going to get pregnant so she could get out of the Navy. I provide counseling by myself, peers, chaplains, and the command to no avail. The loss of an individual no matter their performance affects unit cohesion and operational success. Our military does not have the luxury of "testing the waters" to see if it will work, young soldiers and sailors die if we did. I never wanted to have to make the call to parent and say your son or daughter died because I didn't have them ready or we were just undermanned.

    January 25, 2013 at 8:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. SSG Rodgers

    Currently there are diffrent physical fitness requirements for women- that is fact. There are women being sent home from war because of pregnancy – that is fact. The argument that this is equal to segregating black soldiers is false. Black soldiers were limited to servant jobs.

    January 25, 2013 at 7:58 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Steve

    I hope no US military personnel ever becomes a prisoner of war (POW), but having women serve in areas where such encounters are more likely to occur and where the enemy may do immoral and awful things to a female that they may not have ever considered doing to a male solider sounds like a step backwards for respecting the female population of this country.

    January 25, 2013 at 5:48 am | Report abuse | Reply

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