Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) today introduced what her office is hailing as "groundbreaking" legislation: the Women's Fair and Equal Right to Military Service Act, which would allow qualified female soldiers in the U.S. military to fight in combat.
The ranking female member on the House Armed Services Committee and founder and chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus on Women In the Military, Sanchez says in a statement issued by her office that the legislation legitimizes what's already happening on the battlefield--"the fact that our military women are fighting in combat every day, all over the world."
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She continues: "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. We cannot afford to turn away dedicated and talented soldiers just because of their gender."
If women are already participating in combat, why add another new law recognizing that? Because, Sanchez explains, the combat-exclusion policy prevents female soldiers from advancing up the chain of command, as combat experience is required for certain advancements.
According to stats distributed by the congresswoman's office, females make up around 15 percent of the Armed Forces, with more than 25,000 women currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. has reportedly lost 137 service women in Iraq and Afghanistan, of which more than 60 were killed in combat--despite the official policy forbidding them from serving directly in combat.