To the front: Women to be allowed in military combat roles


by Joe Conger / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @joe_conger

Posted on January 24, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 25 at 9:07 AM

SAN ANTONIO --In a war on terror the battlefield has no clear lines.

Although the Pentagon says it will allow women in combat roles, veterans like retired Air Force Major General Susan Pamerleau will tell you women are already spilling blood for the USA. Pamerleau is now the Bexar County sheriff.

“Women are subject to being under fire, wherever they are," Pamerleau said. "Since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, we’ve had more than 150 women killed in action.”

Army Chief Warrant Officer Thalia Ramirez of San Antonio was one of them. The 28-year-old pilot died last year when her helicopter went down in Afghanistan.

Army vet Autumn Manning says given a choice, she wouldn’t have headed to the combat zones.

“People think back, Vietnam, things like that, it’s not like that anymore,” she said.

Manning was a linguist who was also trained in cleaning up after road-side bomb attacks. She said she knows of many female soldiers who could’ve done their country proud on the “front lines.”

“If the person is capable, the person should be allowed to do what they are capable of doing," Manning said.

The new Pentagon rules may open some of the most physically-challenging military jobs to women, including ground forces.
Currently, the Army excludes women from nearly 25 percent of active-duty roles.
But will women flock to the positions? That’s what military brass are wondering, and many vets are applauding.
“The whole nature of fighting a war is different now,” said Manning. “If you are ever in country, you are in combat.”
The Army and Marines are reporting they will have plans in place to open most jobs by May 15, 2013.