The Realities of War: Assessing the Operational Risk of Revoking the Combat Exclusion Policy
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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In January 2013, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, informed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta of his intent to rescind the militarys gendered combat exclusion policy and fully integrate all military occupational specialties. Dempseys announcement immediately ignited debate within the U.S. Army over the potential impact of complete gender desegregation. Many of these discussions centered on the continued validity of the evidence used to support the original U.S. Army policy excluding female soldiers from direct ground combat. This monograph contributes to these discussions by comparing the assumptions made by the 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces regarding the conditions and requirements of combat to the realities of war as experienced and reported by soldiers over the last three decades. Specific examination of Operations Urgent Fury, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Allied Force and Joint Guardian, and Enduring Freedom indicates that while the Presidential Commissions concerns regarding the combat environment remain valid, its assumptions regarding the performance of U.S. Army soldiers are no longer accurate. The evidence indicates that from 1982 to 2012, the U.S. Army developed and incorporated advanced offensive and defensive military technologies, evolved tactics and doctrine to leverage those technologies, and expanded its understanding of how and by whom such assets would be used on the battlefield. These efforts dramatically improved the lethality and survivability of all U.S. Army soldiers in combat. More importantly, these findings demonstrate that the U.S. Army possesses both the willingness and ability to mitigate the hazards and demands posed by the modern battlefield. As a result, the operational risk posed by the revocation of the U.S. Armys combat exclusion policy is low.
- Humanities and History
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics