Women in Uniform

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Whenever we think of miliary or soldiers we always picture men wearing those uniforms and carrying those heavy firearms, fighting to protect us at the border. We never picture a woman like this, we can never imagine women fighting wars. Well for obvious reason the number of men in the military are way more than the number of women but that does not mean that women are not there at all. One of the reason could also be because in many countries there is a ban on women in combat. As of now women may not be in combat but there are various other role women play in the military. Now a days there have been many discussions on this issue and people want this ban to be raised and wan for women to be given a chance to be a part of the combat. There may be many women who are stronger than men and are more suited to to fight and there might be feeble and weak men. Stopping women to be a part of combat because of their gender should not be done. The selection should be based on physical fitness and not gender. Many people have this view and think that even women should be allowed to be a part of the combat.

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About a year ago in January 2013, the government lifted the ban on women in combat. This decision has got tremendous support even from the United States military and their chiefs who are very supportive of this decision. This change in the policy has already started showing its effects. The women in the military now fight alongside men in the war. Women now are also a part of the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. For a long time women just played auxiliary roles in the army but now they are allowed to be a part of the combat. Studies by the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, along with various military and academic experts, have also denied the fact that there will be any negative impact on the unit or the women itself. This has also led to distinct changes in public attitudes about women’s capabilities and their roles in war.

Including women in combat has also led to certain changes in the army itself. Now there are women’s bathrooms and showers, alongside the men’s. Married couples live together. The base’s clinic now treats gynecological problems. The clinic also has the equipment needed to treat the trauma of modern warfare, an ultrasound machine if required. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first in which tens of thousands of American military women have been living, working and fighting alongside men for a long time now. Obviously having women in combat has changed certain things and rules, but all of this has been done keeping in mind the existing  rules and regulations of the army. Women are advised to travel in pairs for their own safety, especially in small camps.

As much support this decision has got, there still are many who feel that lifting this ban was not a sensible thing to do. The basic fitness test for men and women is different. USMC Women in the Service Restrictions Review has found that women, on average, have 20 percent lower aerobic power, 40 percent lower muscle strength, 47 percent less lifting strength and 26 percent slower marching speed than men. This can prove to be a very big disadvantage for the army. There have also been studies showing that women are twice as likely to suffer injuries and are three times more undeployable than men.

Not just these problem there are emotional problems as well. There is the topic of relationships.  Whether it’s a consensual relationship, unwanted advances, or sexual assault, they all destroy unit cohesion and unity. A good relationship can make someone else in the unit jealous and then there is also the issue of perception of favoritism.  And its worse if a relationship goes sour, one suddenly one loses faith in the other person, whom you are required to trust with your life. And if a sexual assault takes place, and a woman not only loses faith in her fellows, but may also start fearing them. All of this disturbs the cohesion of the unit. It makes people lose faith in each other and also stop trusting their own fellows. There is also the issue of pregnancy. This can affect the deployability of a unit when the unit has a disproportionate number of women or is understaffed. This leaves the unit with fewer members than required.

There are many pros and many cons to this decision at the same time.There are and always will be two aspects to this situation. There are advantages of including women in combat and there also are disadvantages to the same. We just have to make the best of the situation.

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