HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — The notion that women in the armed forces might be allowed to serve alongside men in combat provoked sharp reactions Friday among a sampling of Marines on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan, suggesting a heated debate yet to come.
“It’s very tough, what we have to go through,” said Lance Cpl. John Rolfes of 2nd Battalion, Third Marines, deployed with a Marine infantry unit at Patrol Base Jaker in Nawa. “I personally don’t know any women that could fulfill that role.”
A military advisory panel on diversity in the armed forces signaled this week that it may recommend that female troops should be able to serve in combat units without any restrictions, calling the current prohibition an out-of-date idea that unnecessarily discriminates against women.
The recommendation, if eventually approved by military officials, would open front-line posts to military women for the first time. Women are now restricted to serving in combat support roles.