Beginning with a noticeable rise of female enlistments after the start of the second Iraqi War, the presence of women in and around front line combat zones has placed them in as much danger, if not more, than their male counterparts.
In a move destined to raise the glass ceiling for women in the military, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Thursday he is lifting the ban on women serving in combat, noting women are an integral part of the military's ability to succeed. Sec. Panetta is opening 238,000 front line posts available to women in the Army and the Marines. He pragmatically observed not every female can meet the qualifications to be a combat solider and the standards would not be lowered to accommodate.
"I just hope we would keep the same standard requirements for screening and eligibility to be a member of some of our elite military units," said Rep. Sen. and former presidential candidate John McCain.
Even as the news was celebrated in many corners, there were still pockets of skepticism for a plan of full integration of women in combat lines by 2016. Some of the doubts came from military women themselves.
Katie Petronio fought in Afghanistan and recalled her own struggles,
"I broke down and had muscle atrophy and weight loss at a much faster rate and noticeable rate than my males Marines," she said. "I found myself tripping constantly and my legs buckling."
"Women have an equal opportunity to serve their country and to participate in the armed forces was inevitable," said U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis). "It's just another advancement that's come about under this president."