Continued from page 1

Actually, we have had that conversation, in a manner of speaking. Shannon Faulkner famously forced The Citadel to admit women in 1995, only to drop out a week later, but the damage was done. The Citadel’s demanding physical-fitness standards were permanently lowered — as those of the service academies had been years earlier — to accommodate its new female cohort.

Mr. Panetta’s move could be viewed as a pre-emptive bow to a Faulkner-style lawsuit filed recently by four military women who said the combat exemption was hindering their career-advancement prospects — a brass ceiling, so to speak — as if this were just another case for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the beaches of Normandy, the shores of Iwo Jima, the Battle of the Bulge, the reservoir of Chosin, the jungles of Vietnam and, more recently, the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, have taught us anything, it is that war is not an equal-opportunity employer and that close-quarters infantry combat and Special Forces missions are no place for women.

Peter Parisi is an editor at The Washington Times.