Combat Exclusion

Women make up more than 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel, yet the Defense Department’s longstanding policy barring women from thousands of ground combat positions, known as the “combat exclusion policy”, categorically excludes them from more than 200,000 positions, as well as from entire career fields. Combat exclusion is an archaic policy which does not reflect the values which our military espouses, or the actual capabilities of our service women. The combat exclusion rule also ignores the reality of modern warfare — women in combat are already serving their country in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, where there are no frontlines. Rather than enforcing a merit-based system, today's military bars all women regardless of their qualifications from access to prestigious and career-enhancing assignments, positions and schools, and is thus directly responsible for making servicewomen second-class citizens.

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Pushing the Pentagon to Do the Right Thing

Pushing the Pentagon to Do the Right Thing

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 3:02pm
Yesterday, four servicewomen and the Service Women’s Action Network filed an updated complaint in their lawsuit against the Department of Defense for its ongoing policy and practice of banning women from thousands of jobs across the military, including entire military career fields that remain “men only.”  The ACLU and the ACLU of Northern California, along with our partners at the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, filed this lawsuit challenging the Pentagon’s so-called “combat exclusion policy” almost a year ago.  At that time, a 1994 directive signed by Secretary of Defense Les Aspin prohibited women from being assigned to most ground combat units and positions. We argued that this outdated policy didn’t match the reality of modern warfare, in which women have regularly gone into battle on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, unofficially or temporarily “attached” or “supporting” combat infantry units and Special Forces squads on their missions.
On This 4th of July: Liberty and Justice For All!

On This 4th of July: Liberty and Justice For All!

By Hannah Brudney, Women's Rights Project, ACLU at 6:26am

In early June, Susan Herman, the president of the ACLU, gave a speech to the U.S. Army War College in which she discussed the ACLU's work on a broad range of important military issues, including two on which the ACLU's Women's Rights Project works: the exclusion of women from combat and sexual assault in the military.

Let My Marines Do Their Jobs

Let My Marines Do Their Jobs

By Colleen Farrell, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves at 11:41am

On January 24, 2013, we saw a great victory for U.S. servicewomen when the Department of Defense announced it was ending the ban on women serving in combat units and occupational specialties. As the Pentagon and the armed services begin implementing…

Military Reveals Plans For Integrating Women Into Combat Units, But Many Questions Remain

Military Reveals Plans For Integrating Women Into Combat Units, But Many Questions Remain

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project & Vania Leveille, Washington Legislative Office at 11:02am

Yesterday, the Pentagon made public the plans that each branch of the military submitted to the Secretary of Defense explaining plans...

Excluding Women from Combat Is Just Plain Wrong: A Navy Captain's Story

Excluding Women from Combat Is Just Plain Wrong: A Navy Captain's Story

By Dwayne Oslund, USN (Ret.) at 10:29am

On January 24, 2013, we saw a great victory for U.S. servicewomen when the Department of Defense announced it was ending the ban on women serving...

Baloney! A Message to the Women in Combat Naysayers

Baloney! A Message to the Women in Combat Naysayers

By Lory Manning, USN (Ret.) at 10:37am

On January 24, 2013, we saw a great victory for U.S. servicewomen when the Department of Defense announced it was ending the ban on women serving in combat units and occupational specialties. As the Pentagon and the armed services begin implementing…

Women in Combat: Policy, Meet Reality

Women in Combat: Policy, Meet Reality

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 12:33pm

Until today, official United States policy banned all women from being assigned to ground combat units. The policy was military-wide and covered our whole gender – no exceptions for women who were fast, strong, excellent marksmen, good at keeping…

Why Servicewomen Are Suing To Challenge The Combat Exclusion Policy

Why Servicewomen Are Suing To Challenge The Combat Exclusion Policy

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 9:40am

Last week, four servicewomen who served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the Service Women’s Action Network, sued the Secretary of Defense in federal court to challenge the combat exclusion policy.  This policy prevents women…

Lioness: The Reality of Women’s Combat Experiences

Lioness: The Reality of Women’s Combat Experiences

By Ariela Migdal, ACLU Women's Rights Project at 2:33pm

Shannon Morgan was always a good shot, a skill she acquired growing up in rural Arkansas. As a member of a U.S. Army “Lioness” team of women soldiers in Iraq in 2003, she held her own in firefights and went out on patrols with both Army and Marine…

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