Mixed reaction to women in combat

POSTED: 04:59 PM PST Jan 25, 2013    UPDATED: 03:26 PM PST Jan 26, 2013 
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

By 2016, woman in the military will be serving on the front lines in combat roles.  While many applaud the move by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, some local veterans worry about what that means for the men already serving.  For them, it's not a question if women can, but rather if women should.

Daisy Ramirez's brother is serving in the Marines. "I think it is very controversial right now," said Ramirez.

This latest decision overturns a 1994 rule banning women from being assigned to small ground combat units.

Paulette Brooks says, "If a woman is qualified and she wants to serve, let her serve."
 
The order will open more than 230,000 jobs to women, most of them in the Army and Marines, and possibly including roles with elite commando units.

Steve Cushman, an Army veteran, says, "I would be comfortable having women in combat. They are already in combat and they are doing a great job."

Bob Lilac, an Air Force veteran, agrees, "In Iraq, one woman pilot that I am aware of got hit by a SAM missile, the airplane pretty well shot up, she brought the airplane back and landed it safely just like anybody else."

Women laying down their lives in service to their country is nothing new; in Iraq and Afghanistan alone 152 women were killed.

Peggy Garver, who works at a VFW post, says, " I believe women went into the service to do a job and by not being allowed to be up on the front lines that they feel like they are not being allowed to do their jobs and that is not fair to them."

But what about the men already serving?

Brooks says, "They shouldn't lower the standards, they should have to meet the current standards."

The military agrees, saying women will be held to the same physical standards as men.

Bob Andrede, a Navy veteran, says, "If they go through the same ridged training, then go for it."

But some people did have their reservations.

"Yes having equal standards is great, but the social scenes of having to be cooped up in an armored personnel carrier for 48 hours with men and women together having to do the things the body needs to do, is complicated," said Lilac.

"There are so many aspects that you wonder sometimes if women and handle it," said Andrede.

"It might be a risk for everybody, not saying that women shouldn't be in combat, it's just they have to be as prepared as anybody who is going to be going into combat," said Ramirez

Cushman says, "It could be over come, I assume, but I wouldn't want to be the commander coping with that additional concern."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the change won't happen overnight, but he believes it will strengthen the military.