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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Consequences of women in combat

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Rowan Scarborough makes several compelling points in "Army may train women for rigor of front lines" (Web, Monday). If a woman can meet the battle-tested standards of the infantry, then I believe she should have the same opportunity as men. However, all Americans should then be mandated to register for the draft.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, California Democrat, and Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, New York Democrat, recently introduced legislation to encourage the "repeal of the Ground Combat Exclusion policy" for women. But they failed to mention changing the Selective Service law. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the male-only draft in Rostker v. Goldberg (1981). The reasoning is that because women are excluded from direct combat, their service would not be needed for the draft. This logic disintegrates if women are to fight in the infantry; therefore, the law must be amended.

Also, the military fitness standard for women is drastically lower than for men, as Mr. Scarborough's piece mentions. If women are allowed in direct-combat units, then to ensure equality and safety, the military should apply one standard, irrespective of sex. However, we should recognize that a single fitness standard naturally will lead to women ranking lower than their male counterparts and thus be less competitive for promotion, which is the opposite of this initiative's intent.


Quantico, Va.

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