Female Soldiers Get Their Due After Pentagon Lifts Ban

ABC News/Univision

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will lift a nearly two-decade ban on women serving in combat roles, according to reports on Wednesday.

Women have officially been forbidden from serving in ground combat units since 1994, so the move marks a major shift in the military's policy for female service members. But women, who make up 15 percent of the U.S. armed forces, have often found themselves on the front lines of dangerous combat zones during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2011, Univision News profiled a group of 19 women who are part of the Female Engagement Team while training at the Fort Irwin National Training Center in California. The unit's main purpose is to interact with Afghan women, who traditionally do not speak to men outside their family, for counterintelligence purposes.

"Sometimes the men, they see us as 'why are the females part of the infantry now?' But for them, they are starting to realize we're an asset to them," said Sgt. Scarlett Martinez, a member of the South Carolina Army National Guard, to Univision News' Satcha Pretto.

The Pentagon's decision means that women will now be able to serve in combat units and gain the experience necessary to be promoted to the highest ranks of the military.

Don't miss out on any of Fusion's highlights -- get Fusion today.

Viewing America’s population through the lens of diversity, we will cover the social, cultural and political impact of various racial and ethnic groups in this country.

comments powered by Disqus

Reproductive Laws

Live Blog: Senate Holds Hearing to Review Women's Reproductive Rights

Democrats recently presented legislation that would essentially veto the Hobby Lobby ruling by requiring most employers to provide federally required contraception regardless of whether they have religious objections, The Washington Post's Wesley Lowry reports: "The Senate bill announced Wednesday by [Senator Patty] Murray would override the Supreme Court decision by requiring for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby to provide and pay for contraception and any other form of health coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act.