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I had no idea that women were under a ban against serving in direct combat jobs in the military. Last I checked, women have been fighting in wars since the Civil War by disguising themselves as men. Now that it’s 2012, women can be more than nurses and aids. The role of women in combat is typically controversial and recently women have been given bigger roles in war, but not receiving the respect and the ability to move up in positions that men have. This is why four women in the military are suing.

According to the The New York Times, “The lawsuit asserts that the ban is a relic of a bygone military era and that in recent conflicts, where front lines have been virtually nonexistent, women have frequently found themselves in combat without receiving the same accolades or opportunities for promotion later.” Four women who have served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq are collectively suing to force the U.S. to end the ban.

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Over the last two years, the U.S. Defense Department began looking at loosening its near-universal ban on women serving in direct positions of combat beyond the support-related jobs they have traditionally held. As reported in the New York Times, this year, Leon E. Panetta, the defense secretary, ordered rule changes that opened more than 14,000 positions to women. Despite the changes, 238,000 positions in the armed forces remain closed to women.

This is what women in the military like Capt. Zoe Bedell of the Marine Corps and Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar (a helicopter pilot with the Air National Guard) are fighting against. While doors are seemingly opening, many remain closed because of opposition from the infantry, who believe that many women can not live up to the physical demands of war like walking long distances, carrying heavy loads and handling cumbersome weapons.

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It’s been reported that about 14 percent of the 1.4 million troops in the active-duty military are women. About 280,000 women were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. About 150 women died in those two conflicts. So it’s obvious that women are indeed fighting in wars for countless decades, but the conflict and the lawsuit stems from women being barred from holding higher positions in combat. All’s fair in love and war, right? Wrong!

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