(Washington Times) — The recent decision by outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta to allow women to serve in front-line combat units is fraught with problems, and no one in the administration or at the Department of Defense seems to be considering them.

First of all, it is important to understand that the nature of warfare has changed substantially in the last couple of decades. Linear battlefields with clearly defined front lines and rear areas are no longer the norm and are unlikely to re-emerge in future warfare. Furthermore, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and suicide bombers have become a ubiquitous threat that does not discriminate between combat soldiers and support personnel. Consequently, everyone in combat areas is vulnerable to enemy attack and could find themselves in contact with the enemy in an instant. This means women are already in combat and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. All one has to do is visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and observe the number of women who are recovering from wounds or check the statistics on the number of Purple Hearts that have been awarded to women. Women have fought well and displayed courage and commitment during contact with the enemy. Bottom line: They have done well.

Should women join men in direct-combat and infantry roles?

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