Thursday 23 October 2014

Soldiers battle Pentagon over women-in-combat ban

Nikhil Kumar New York

Published 29/11/2012 | 05:00

A group of American servicewomen – including two who were awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in battle – have revived the debate about the Pentagon's ban on women in combat by challenging the policy in court.

All four have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case filed in a San Francisco court, they claim the ban overlooks the fluid nature of modern warfare that – despite the policy – often results in women serving in combat.

The ban, they say, continues to limit their prospects. As a result of the policy, women are barred from 280,000 positions across the US armed forces, according to the lawsuit, which names the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta as the defendant.

The action, filed with the American Civil Liberties Union, names Major Mary Jennings Hegar and three colleagues – Captain Zoe Bedell of the US Marine Corps Reserves, First Lieutenant Colleen Farrell of the US Marine Corps and Staff Sergeant Jennifer Hunt of the US Army Reserves – among the plaintiffs.

The case comes against the backdrop of a painfully slow process of reform as the Pentagon attempts to shed policies that hold women back. (© Independent News Service)

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