As Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announces plans to lift a ban on women serving in combat positions in the military, Senator Jim Inhofe is voicing concern.
Inhofe, the incoming Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was on the committee when women were initially banned from serving in combat roles and thought the policy worked well.
“I was on the House Committee in 1994 when Les Aspin first made these changes,” said Inhofe. “Because that policy has worked so well for so long, I am concerned about the potential impacts of completely ending this policy."
Inhofe said assured constituents that the Senate Armed Services Committee will have oversight as military services conduct a review of all unit and specialty positions and will take any actions he deems necessary to keep the military strong.
"While the Pentagon has rescinded the 1994 Direct Combat Definition and Assignment Rule, not all of the 237,000 positions previously closed to women will now be automatically open. Instead, the military Services, under Secretary Panetta’s direction, will conduct a review of all unit and specialty positions to be completed no later than 2016.
“But I want everyone to know that the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which I am the Ranking Member, will have a period to provide oversight and review. During that time, if necessary, we will be able to introduce legislation to stop any changes we believe to be detrimental to our fighting forces and their capabilities. I suspect there will be cases where legislation becomes necessary."
Inhofe also acknowledged the the valuable role women already play in the military.
“Women have made incredibly valuable sacrifices in service to their country. One such example is Oklahoman Sarina Butcher who was killed in combat – a position she volunteered for – while serving in Afghanistan for the Oklahoma National Guard. We are forever indebted to her and others like her.”
President Obama has expressed support for lifting the ban, releasing the following statement:
"Today, every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger, with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love. "