AL Air National Guard reacts to women allowed on front lines - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

AL Air National Guard reacts to lift of ban on women on front lines

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

 

The ban on women in combat is over. Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta says lifting the ban will open hundreds of thousands of front line jobs even elite commando positions for women in the Armed Forces.

This will overturn a 1994 ban on women being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Here in Alabama, women at the Birmingham Air National Guard don't have any job title restrictions, but the new chance to serve on the front lines gives them new opportunities to climb the ranks.

Thursday morning, the image of the military changes. With the ban on women on the front lines lifted, new opportunities are opening up in combat and special forces.  Today, the news reached Birmingham's Air National Guard base with excitement.

"Especially in the Army and the Marines, there are some avenues that are not available to women that hopefully now will be," Major Lisa Weaver, AL Air National Guard said.

Major weaver told us, the words "front line of combat" have changed over the years.

"In historic wars you would have rows of people who would go out in combat and face off with another row of people with rifles and that's just not the way wars are fought," Major Weaver said. "We haven't fought wars that way in a very long time."

But the big changes aren't coming without plenty of opposition. Already, several U.S. state leaders have said this move could impair certain missions as they require upper body strength, speed, and endurance.

 "There is always going to be an aversion to change," Lt. Marquette Leveque, U.S. Navy said. "And so the best way to deal with that is just to go and do my job like any officer would."

"Let's just open it up, make it based on performance," Rep. Tammy Duckworth, (R) Illinois said. "If the women can't meet the standards then they don't get to graduate from the program but if they can meet the standards then we gain another soldier who is willing to serve this nation and willing to lay their lives down in a combat roll and that's good for our military."

"To have more opportunities, to be able to open that window and that door and be able to go down another path that previously wasn't available, that's always a good thing no matter who you are - if you're a woman, man, it doesn't matter," Major Weaver said. "It's a nice thing to be able to have that option you didn't have before."

Panetta's decision gives military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they think any position should be closed to women.

 

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