Women In Combat
Women in combat is a topic that is much debated in today's society. Many cultures in modern day society have taken the viewpoint that women should not serve in combat zones and that they should be protected from the horrors of war. The reasons for protecting women from combat range from "they are too delicate" to "women are not ruthless enough to fight in combat". The reality is that women have been in combat since the dawn of civilization... or before. In ancient times there are many examples of women leading in combat. One who is well known is the Celtic warrior princess Boudica who led a revolt against the Romans.
Many modern armies including the Israeli Defense forces successfully incorporate women into their armed forces. The United States and other countries have only recently began to allow women into jobs traditionally held to be "combat related". Helicopter pilot, fighter pilot, and even Humvee gunner have all become positions that women can hold in the military. The truth is that in the US forces women have been exposed combat in almost every war the United States has fought. In World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War military nurses were "women in combat".
Nurses, while not involved directly in combat, often come under attack indirectly through artillery, sniper, and suicide bombers. World War I has documented cases of nurses dying in the trenches while taking care of wounded soldiers. World War II was famous for the Bataan death March and military nurses were on that march. In Korea military nurses served in combat support hospitals often as little as 5 miles from the fighting.
The Vietnam War saw women exposed the horrors of war on an almost daily basis. In every case, while women were not combat troops, they displayed as much bravery and selflessness as any combat soldier. There are definite physiological differences between men and women. Women, for example, lack the sheer physical strength that most men have. Yet, women have proven time after time that they have the stamina and endurance as well as the personal courage to play a role in combat.
The actual numbers of women who served is difficult to estimate as the military did not keep an exact count. It is estimated that over 7500 women served in the Vietnam war. A large number of them were military nurses. Women comprise approximately 20% of the United States military today. Modern warfare and terrorism precludes any segregation of the force from attack. This means that in reality all soldiers, regardless of gender, must be prepared to do combat any time and any place. The debate may go on but the truth is there are women in combat.
Some useful links for women in combat:
Women in Vietnam
Vietnam War Statistics
Women in the Korean War
WW II Nurses in the Philippines
Women and WW II
Women and WWI