Lawsuit Demands that Women be Allowed to Join Combat

Friday, November 30, 2012
Sgt. Donna R. Johnson, killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan October 1, 2012

Called a relic from a bygone era, the military’s ban on women serving in combat is being challenged by a new lawsuit in federal court. There is no law prohibiting women from taking part in combat.


Four military servicewomen who served tours in Afghanistan or Iraq are suing the Department of Defense to overturn its longstanding policy that allows only men to be in frontline positions.


The plaintiffs—Major Mary Jennings Hegar, Staff Sergeant Jennifer Hunt, Captain Alexandra Zoe Bedell and First Lieutenant Colleen Farrell—claim the ban makes no sense given that women have frequently wound up in combat situations during recent conflicts.


Hegar was trained as a helicopter pilot in the Air National Guard and flew medevac rescue missions in Afghanistan. Hunt accompanied male combat soldiers on “door-kicking missions” in Afghanistan and, in Iraq, received shrapnel injuries to her face, arms and back when her vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. Bedell and Farrell  are both Marine Corps officers who were deployed to Afghanistan.


All the ban has done is to prevent women from receiving the accolades or opportunities for promotion afforded men who are given combat assignments, they argue.


Women currently make up 14.5% of the 1.4 million troops serving on active duty and 20% of new recruits. About 280,000 women were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, with about 150 dying in these wars.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Servicewomen File Suit Over Direct Combat Ban (by James Dao, New York Times)

Women Challenge Pentagon on Combat Bar (by Elizabeth Warmerdam, Courthouse News Service)

Mary Jennings Hegar et al. v. Leon Panetta (pdf)

Marines Clash about Women in Combat (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Two Female Officers Sue Pentagon for Right to Join Combat Units (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

139 Female Soldiers Have Died in Iraq and Afghanistan (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


yarply 11 years ago
Put them on the fl. All of them and then maybe we can get rid of all these women who wish to be and act like men!

Leave a comment