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New Army Rule Stunts Women's Opportunities

Saturday, June 15, 2002

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(WOMENSENEWS)--A new Army policy that will keep women out of ground combat will also bar them from other opportunities in the U.S. military, women's rights activists were quoted as saying in a Boston Globe article Thursday.

In April, the Army said that its new Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition teams should be classified as combat units. The new designation prohibits women from serving in those units and the fewer than 15 women already training in the squadrons are now being reassigned.

The new policy follows a Pentagon decision to dismiss Clinton appointees to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. As of last week, no new panel members had been appointed, leaving the committee, which addressed the concerns of women in the armed forces, unable to pursue its work, according to the paper.

Rules created in 1994 ban women from being assigned to units whose primary mission is direct ground combat.

"As time went by it began to appear that RSTA missions might require the women in these few positions to be in a place where they might find themselves to be in direct ground combat," Martha Reddy, an Army spokeswoman, told the Globe. "We don't want to be out of compliance with policy."

Nancy Campbell, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, told the Globe that the latest actions represented "a shift that's very troubling."

"We're beginning to see a trend that I hope doesn't go any further than this," Campbell said.

Others, however, said that excluding women from the combat units was the right choice.

Reassignment of women out of the new squadrons represents an escape from the "social engineering" of the Clinton administration, said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, referring to the decision under the former president to deem the units non-combat groups.