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Femme Fatale: An Examination of the Role of Women in Combat and the Policy Implications for Future American Military Operations
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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The current All-Volunteer Force structure depends on the effective utilization of all of its personnel. Female service members make up 15 percent of that force, yet the armed services do not effectively utilize these women in combat roles. Conservatives in Congress continue to try to force the armed forces to prohibit the assignment of women into any potential combat role by denying women assignments to combat support functions. The arguments against allowing women to serve in combat units center on three principle notions. First, women are physically inferior to men and their presence degrades combat effectiveness. Second, women detract from unit cohesion and create discipline issues by their mere presence in a unit, which degrades the units combat effectiveness. Third, opponents of women in combat and the military suggest that using women in combat roles reflects an immoral and uncivilized society. Society should protect the weaker sex, not send it into harms way. This thesis provides evidence that opponents to women serving in combat and the military fail to grasp the realities associated with modern armed conflict. Women have participated and will continue to participate in combat. This paper evaluates four cases in which women directly participated in armed conflict, beginning with an examination of the role women played in the resistance movement during World War II. The other cases examined are Soviet female pilots on the Eastern Front in World War II, female terrorists and insurgents in modern warfare, and the modern American service womans experience since womens inclusion into the All-Volunteer Force. The final chapters discuss the arguments against allowing women to participate in combat, and offer recommendations for shaping the policies and regulations governing the use of women in combat roles to reflect the current cultural and security contexts facing the United States.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE