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The Extent of Restrictions on the Service of Active-Component Military Women

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Women have long served in the U.S. military, although always as a minority. During wartime, women s level of participation has expanded to meet the demand for military personnel this was particularly true during World War II Godson, 2002 Holm, 1993 Moore, 1996 Poulos, 1996 Segal, 1995. In the 1970s, an unprecedented increase in women s participation in the civilian labor force, coupled with the advent of the allvolunteer force in 1973, changed the thinking of the U.S. Department of Defense DoD and the military services with regard to the roles women could play in the armed forces. The services could no longer simply draft the number of individuals needed they had to recruit them. To help fill their ranks, the services opened more roles to women, but within a set of rules designed to protect women from the possibility of being captured, injured, or killed by the enemy and to preserve privacy in living conditions. For the Army and Marine Corps, initial thoughts about where women could be assigned were shaped by the perception of a linear battlefield, with a dangerous front and a comparatively safer rear, with certain units e.g., combat arms battalions and below in the Army designed to directly combat an enemy on the ground and other units e.g., service support units, command units designed to serve behind those units and not directly confront the enemy. Women could be assigned jobs in the units expected to be located in the rear but not those expected to serve at the front. In 1988, the system was formalized when DoD promulgated the risk rule, which banned women from units or occupations in which the risk of exposure to direct combat or capture was equal to or greater than that of combat units in the same theater.

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  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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