In February of 2012 the Pentagon in the United States made a big announcement stating that it was opening up more combat positions to women in the U.S Military. In these 14,000 positions, it includes tank mechanics and frontline intelligence officers. Yet, nearly one fifth of active-duty military positions still remain off limits. These include infantry, combat tank units, and special operations commando units.
Changes like this do not go far enough according to California Representative Loretta Sanchez, who called it “ridiculous” to open a few positions at the battalion level and create a pilot program. Yet it can go to far for others like former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who worries women fighting in combat could compromise operations since “men have emotions when seeing women in harms way.”
Some say it may be useful to study countries where women are already allowed to fight. A country with this example is Israel. Here women are allowed to fight on the frontline in certain combat positions. Israel is also one of the few countries who unlike the United States draft women and the policy is evolving.
Israel began allowing women in combat units after 1995 when a 23 year old South African immigrant who arrived with a pilot’s license from her native country was denied entry into the Air Force. She then sued for discrimination and since this the Israel Defense Forces has gradually integrated more units in compliance with the Supreme Court Order. Only 12 percent of military positions in Israel are off-limits to women, including combat positions in the armored corps and infantry. Yet women can service in light infantry, artillery and border patrol roles.
Also, according to findings in Israel, there are also reports that the IDF often doesn’t accept women for units for which they are eligible and evacuates women during combat situations. Women comprise only 33 percent of the IDF due to a shorter length of service and a more lenient discharge system for religiously observant Jewish women.
It is very surprising that the role of women in the military service is at such great debate in a world where women and men are supposed to be seen as equals. It is even more surprising that the United States a world leader in most circumstances has such a different view compared to Israel, where women are allowed more military positions. It is also very shocking that women in Israel are drafted and women in the United States are not. Everyone in Israel has a certain number of years to serve their military. Maybe this is a reason that women are granted more positions in the Israeli military.
So why are there so many less positions available to women in the United States? It seems that country so diverse and so flu of equality would be open and willing to give women a fair chance in the military. Why is Israel so much more lenient about giving women these positions? Is it really due to more women in the military or are they just more open about this issue.