Continued from page 1

“The last 11 years of warfare have really revealed to us there are no front lines,” Brig. Gen. Barrye Price, director of human resources policy for the Army. “There are no rear echelons. Everybody was vulnerable to the influence of the enemy.”

However, the Pentagon is maintaining its ban on women in combat roles, despite the recommendation of a blue-ribbon panel set up by a then-Democrat-controlled Congress in 2009.

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, a group of civilians and active-duty and retired military members, recommended to President Obama a year ago that he remove all job barriers for women.

The last time the Pentagon reviewed women’s roles was in 1994, three years after the Persian Gulf War.

President Clinton lifted the ban on women serving on combat aircraft and ships.

Tough standards

For Sgt. Martinson, the question about whether women should serve in combat is moot: She says there are plenty of female troops already engaged in combat.

“We’re not in jobs that are described as a combat jobs. But when you’re out there, the enemy brings the fight to you. And we do fight back,” she says.

And she is ever ready to fight.

Standing 5 feet 7 inches and weighing 150 pounds, Sgt. Martinson carries her 80-pound pack of ammunition, tools, firearms, body armor, food, water and explosives into the field on missions, just like her male counterparts.

In addition, she also often carries the 35-pound robot that detects and destroys roadside bombs.

Out in the field, “it’s miserable, hot - really hot, like 110 degrees. You’re sleeping in the dirt. But I don’t know, some people like it,” she says.

Training to become a bomb tech is an arduous endeavor: Recruits must endure a rigorous monthlong course that weeds out those unsuitable for the work.

Only then does the real explosive-ordnance disposal training actually begin - a nine-month course that pushes recruits to their physical, psychological and emotional limits as they learn how to handle and defuse everything from Civil War-era cannonballs to nuclear weapons.

Sgt. Martinson says no standards - physical or otherwise - should be lowered to accommodate women.

Story Continues →