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Troops debate risks, benefits of women in combat

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012
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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal lawsuit filed by four service members Tuesday challenges the Pentagon's longstanding policy barring women from serving in direct combat positions. Here are the issues:

WHAT IS THE CURRENT POLICY REGARDING FEMALE TROOPS?

The 1994 combat exclusion policy bars women from being assigned to ground combat units, which are smaller and considered more dangerous since they are often in the thick of battle for longer periods of time than the other units.

WHAT ARE THE ARGUMENTS FOR LETTING WOMEN FIGHT ON THE FRONT LINES?

Supporters of lifting the ban say women are already being wounded or killed in war, and the policy keeps them from being recognized for their battleground experience, which could lead to promotions and higher pay. They also say the policy hurts the U.S. military by limiting the chances of qualified women to move into more senior leadership ranks.

WHAT DO OPPONENTS SAY?

Opponents include some female troops who question whether women are physically capable of handling the rigors of being assigned to ground combat units. The first two women to volunteer for the Marine Corps' grueling 13-week infantry training course at its base in Quantico, Va., were unable to complete it. The Corps will open the course again to female volunteers in January.

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