WASHINGTON — A military advisory commission is recommending that the Pentagon do away with a policy that bans women from serving in combat units, breathing new life into a long-simmering debate.
Though thousands of women have been involved in the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have done so while serving in combat support roles — as medics, logistics officers and so on — because defense policy prohibits women from being assigned to any unit smaller than a brigade whose primary mission is direct combat on the ground. On Friday, a special panel was meeting to polish the final draft of a report that recommends the policy be eliminated "to create a level playing field for all qualified service members."
If it were approved by the Defense Department, it would be yet another sizeable social change in a force that in the past year has seen policy changes to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly for the first time in the military and to allow Navy women to serve on submarines for the first time. women, said Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez.
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