Sunday, August 16, 2009

Women in the military

The New York Times is doing a series on women serving in combat and how recent experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq are bringing down barriers. The first in the series, by Lizette Alvarez, is "G.I. Jane Breaks the Combat Barrier," and the second, by Steven Lee Myers, is "Living and Fighting Alongside Men, and Fitting In."

Here's an excerpt from the first story:

Before 2001, America’s military women had rarely seen ground combat. Their jobs kept them mostly away from enemy lines, as military policy dictates.

But the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, often fought in marketplaces and alleyways, have changed that. In both countries, women have repeatedly proved their mettle in combat. The number of high-ranking women and women who command all-male units has climbed considerably along with their status in the military.

And here is one from the second:

Opponents of integrating women in combat zones long feared that sex would mean the end of American military prowess. But now birth control is available — the PX at Warhorse even sold out of condoms one day recently — reflecting a widely accepted reality that soldiers have sex at outposts across Iraq.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the first in which tens of thousands of American military women have lived, worked and fought with men for prolonged periods. Wars without front lines, they have done more than just muddle the rules meant to keep women out of direct enemy contact.

They have changed the way the United States military goes to war.

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