Editorials

Burgoo: Jan. 25

Capt. Sara Rodriguez, 26, of the 101st Airborne Division, carried a litter of sandbags during the Expert Field Medical Badge training at Fort Campbell, in May.
Capt. Sara Rodriguez, 26, of the 101st Airborne Division, carried a litter of sandbags during the Expert Field Medical Badge training at Fort Campbell, in May. AP

The biggest safety concern for women in the military is actually not so much enemy fire as sexual attacks from fellow members of their own service. Because the crime is so underreported, it's impossible to say how many women suffer sexual assault while they're in uniform, but 3,192 cases were recorded in 2011. Allowing women to get the benefits of serving in combat positions won't make that threat worse. In fact, it might make things better because it will mean more women at the top of the military, and that, inevitably, will mean more attention to women's issues. Today women are on armed patrols and in fighter planes. But they can't hold about 200,000 jobs officially termed "combat," which often bring more pay and can provide a steppingstone for promotions. Women now make up almost 15 percent of the military. They've taken their posts with such seamless calm that the country barely noticed. More than 130 women have died and more than 800 have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've come a long, sometimes tragic, heroic way.

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