As one of his last acts as the SecDef., Leon Panetta issued an executive level decree that women would no longer be excluded from combat.
This has some panties in a twist.
The full guidance has not yet been made available. As with many large changes in force structure, this will require time for staffing, policy writing, and implementation. From my experience, this could take 90 days to two years to put into effect. The repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, which required legislation, took over a year to implement, for example.
The decree brings about questions of constitutionality. The stark reality is that the Uniformed Code of Military Justice and all other major changes to force structure regarding ground and naval forces must first be passed, as legislation, though congress. Article 1 sections 8 and 9 of the US Constitution fully address this fact.
This will leave it up to the US Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality of Panetta's decree should it ever be challenged. Just because of the subject of its constitutionality, I think it should be. But that is because it is a matter of executive overreach, not because of the subject itself.
In reality, women have been in combat roles since the War For Independence. Consider the tale of Mary Ludwig Hays, also known as "Molly Pitcher". As an Army spouse, Mary joined in and supported her husband, John, on the battlefield. She filled the role of "combat support", a role female soldiers routinely fill in the modern Army. When her husband was mortally wounded in the Battle of Monmouth, she took up his duties at the cannon. She knew the drills and fought alongside the men. Later, once retired, congress voted on giving her a Soldier's pension instead of just widow's benefits, due to her filling the role of a Soldier.
Army doctrine mandates that every Soldier must be able to fill the basic roles of an infantryman should the situation arise. Marine Corps doctrine states that every Marine is first an Infantryman, then whatever other specialty. Given the doctrine of both of these military ground forces, it logically follows that females are already trained to fill combat roles.
True, there are many stories of females failing to rise to those occasions. One is Jessica Lynch, who was captured, tortured, and raped by the Iraqi army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She failed to adequately fire upon the enemy. Her rifle failed to operate properly because she failed to properly maintain it. However, her failures were not the only factors that led to her capture. Her NCOs should have done their jobs preparing her and inspecting her equipment. Her commander failed to properly read a map. But her plight still will be used to argue against females in combat roles.
There are males who fail to meet the mental and physical toughness required by combat arms Soldiers, too. There are some females who do meet those requirements. So, the bottom line on this issue is that those capable should be allowed to serve in that capacity, if they so wish. In making it possible, the services just need to eliminate the physical fitness test standards that differentiate between male and female. There should be one table, with the age scales, devoid of separate columns for male and female. The US Army has already eliminated the gender differences in some of the tested events. Females will rise to the requirements.
In addition, most combat arms occupational specialties have minimum physical requirements. EOD has certain physical requirements to enter the job. Some women have already proven themselves capable as this specialty already allows females. Infantrymen, regardless of gender, would still be required to meet standards of lifting a minimum weight from the ground to overhead in order to be eligible.
I have seen females who can shoot better than the average male Soldier. I have seen females who can run faster. I knew one female Captain (O-3) who could do more push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, etc. than your average male infantryman. I knew another who was a hand-to-hand combat expert. I watched her spar with several males of equal ranking in Army Combatives, and watched her beat them.
So, other than the constitutionality of Panetta's decree, who cares?
It's a distraction. It's a smoke screen. It is designed to get those with their panties in a twist to talk about the issue. However, since Iraq revealed that women could fill roles in combat, the attempt has largely failed. The idea was to trick conservatives to make statements that would resurrect the false "War On Women" narrative. It failed.
The distraction is meant to take our eyes off a few issues.
First is the Benghazi investigation, or lack thereof.
Second is the dismal and destructive fiscal and economic policies from the executive branch and the socialists in congress. On this subject, we won a law that will suspend congressional pay if congress fails to do its job in passing a budget. However, it should have mandated that budget be balanced. That same bill gave the federal government permission to borrow from loan sharks to meet its bills until May. Taxpayers got screwed even with a compromise that appears "fair". It isn't fair to those of us stuck paying the bills.
The third and most important issue it distracts from is the attempt to infringe upon the Second Amendment.
First, they want to ban "assault weapons". The problem is that they cannot even agree on the definition of an "assault weapon" outside of "it looks intimidating". Under that description, everything other than a Super-Soaker looks intimidating.
Next they want to ban "high capacity magazines". The current meme is that such magazines are any that can hold more than 10 rounds. That is false. A "high capacity magazine" is one that can hold more rounds than the stock/standard magazine that comes with the firearm. In regards to an SKS, a high-capacity magazine is any removable magazine that holds more than 5 rounds. That rifle has an internal magazine with a 5-round capacity. In regards to an AR-15, it would be a magazine with more than a 30-round capacity. The 20-round options are not standard but are reduced-capacity optional magazines.
Lautenberg, famous for the much-abused "Lautenberg Amendment", has introduced one bill that would outlaw any weapon or magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds. I hope he's familiarized himself with the term "Ex Post Facto". His "Lautenberg Amendment" has been largely abused. It allegedly bans anybody found guilty of domestic violence from owning a firearm. However, it has been used to illegally confiscate firearms from anybody accused, even falsely, of such. Imagine a hen-pecked husband is bashed with a rolling pin. Then his abusive spouse bangs her own head into a mirror and calls the cops. Poor Billy has his guns confiscated. Abusive Abby smiles as her victim is left defenseless. I've seen this happen multiple times. It isn't as far-fetched as some may claim.
Ignore the distracting smoke-screens. Keep focused on things that really matter. Keep your focus on demanding fiscal responsibility. Keep your focus on our constitutionally protected rights that are derived from the natural rights of life, liberty, and property. Keep your focus on executive over-reach. Keep your focus on demanding accountability, competence, and justice from our elected officials and their appointed minions.
Be a Soldier. Maintain your battlefield awareness. Scan. Focus. Act. Do not get distracted. Do not get complacent. Demand that your leaders lead or get the heck out of office so somebody willing to do the job can get it done.