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ACLU Sues To Allow Women In Combat

Aired 11/28/12 on KPBS News.

The ACLU of Northern California has filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon policy that bans women from combat.

The ACLU of Northern California has filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon policy that bans women from combat.

The ACLU filed the suit, Hegar, et al. v. Panetta, on behalf of four female service members who say despite fighting on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense's formal policy has hampered their ability to get the same kind of promotions and awards as their male counterparts.

Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women's Action Network and former Marine captain, said at a news conference today announcing the lawsuit:

Marine Corps Female Engagement Team
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Above: Marine Corps Female Engagement Team

"Combat exclusion is an archaic policy which does not reflect the realities of modern warfare, the values which our military espouses, or the actual capabilities of our service women. Rather than enforcing a merit-based system, today's military bars all women regardless of their qualifications from access to prestigious and career-enhancing assignments, positions and schools, and is thus directly responsible for making servicewomen second-class citizens."

In an email sent to Reuters, a spokeswoman for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote:

"Panetta remains strongly committed to examining the expansion of roles for women in the U.S. military, as evidenced by the recent step of opening up thousands of more assignments to women."

As Home Post reported earlier this year, more than 14,000 military jobs that had previously been closed off to female troops because of their proximity to combat became available to them in May.

Yet according to the ACLU, there are still an estimated 238,000 positions from which women are banned from serving because of their sex.

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