WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-47), the ranking female member on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and founder and chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women in the Military on Monday introduced the Women’s Fair and Equal Right to Military Service Act, groundbreaking legislation which would allow qualified female soldiers in the United States military to fight in combat.
“I am proud to introduce the Women’s Fair and Equal Right to Military Service Act, which would allow female service members to fight in combat,” said Sanchez. “In actuality, this bill would officially recognize what is already happening on the battlefield – the fact that our military women are fighting in combat every day, all over the world. Female service members in Iraq and Afghanistan have never hesitated when their fellow service members are under attack.”
Women make up around 15 percent of the armed forces and currently over 25,000 female members are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States has lost 137 service women in Iraq and Afghanistan of which over 60 were killed in combat. Despite those numbers, female members are prohibited from formally serving directly in combat.
“It’s time to do what is right and officially recognize the significant contributions our female service members are making to our military missions and train them as well as we train the men in our Armed Forces,” continued Sanchez. “We cannot afford to turn away dedicated and talented soldiers just because of their gender.”
The combat exclusion policy also prevents female soldiers from advancing up the chain of command, as combat experience is required for certain advancements. This restriction cuts short the careers of many of female soldiers before they even have a chance to get off the ground.