Women to Serve on Front Lines, Making History
By Jan 2016, the U.S. military must open all combat positions to women, giving females the opportunity to serve on the front lines for the first time.
But it appears not many women want the job. The most recent Army survey finds that only 20 percent of female members would choose to serve in a combat role.
Meanwhile, others are facing the challenge head on, hoping to see military culture change. These women are proving to be top performers and leaders.
At Fort Bragg, N.C., 1st. Lt. Kelly Requa is one of the women making history.
"I think it's a good job," she said.
At her base, Requa is among the first female leaders.
"We're a unit that likes to pride itself on embracing diversity. There was really no discussion at all. Once she got there the discussion stopped," Army Capt. Fred Janoe said.
Scientists are studying the physical demands of being on the front lines ahead of the January 2016 deadline for women in combat jobs.
They are measuring strength, endurance, power, and set benchmarks regardless of gender.
"We want the best talent that we can possibly get. And, these are exactly the same standards we expect soldiers in basic training and units to perform to each and every day," Maj. Gen. Mike Murray said.
Requa welcomes the challenge. She said that even though the guys in her platoon are stronger, in physical training she can keep up without any problems.
"Anybody can be a platoon leader. Anybody can be a crew member. As long as you can do the job," she explained.
For now she's the only woman in her platoon; but, later this Spring women will begin serving as crew members.
Their job will require them to position the 4,000-pound cannons, zero in on targets, and fire the rounds.
For men, the integration of women into combat roles means a new focus on respect, team building, and sexual assault prevention.
So far, Requa saidthere haven't been any problems, and more often than not it appears the men in her platoon forget she's the only woman in the field.