by Chris Bodenner
Silbey has a great post on the slow but steady integration of blacks and women in the military. For the latter, the only remaining barrier is serving in combat units. But Iraq and Afghanistan are quietly undermining that:
First, because in a war with fluid front-linesif any at alleven women supposedly out of reach of combat find themselves in the middle of a firefight. Second, and more importantly, the need for certain capabilities, skills, and warm bodies, has overridden military reluctance to put women in harm’s way. The New York Times recently published two substantial articles (1, 2) on the latter. [...] :
As soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, women have done nearly as much in battle as their male counterparts: patrolled streets with machine guns, served as gunners on vehicles, disposed of explosives, and driven trucks down bomb-ridden roads. They have proved indispensable in their ability to interact with and search Iraqi and Afghan women for weapons, a job men cannot do for cultural reasons. The Marine Corps has created revolving units “lionesses” dedicated to just this task.
Read the rest (which addresses, among other things, sex in combat zones). Colbert also did a great service when he interviewed Sgt. Robin Balcom on his USO show; she earned a combat badge in Iraq as an MP (military police), which isn't technically a combat unit. Video after the jump: