In January 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifted the ban on women in combat, opening up about 230,000 frontline positions to women. The new decision replaced a 1994 military policy memo that excluded women from assignments to units below the brigade level if the unit would be engaged in direct combat.
“I think the purpose of this repeal is to allow qualified women who want the opportunity to serve in combat arms to not be denied that opportunity based on their gender, which is something I completely support,” said Claremont McKenna College Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Cadet Aidan Fahnestock CM ’14.
Evan Wollen, Lieutenant Colonel and military science professor at CMC, does not believe that this policy will significantly affect the ROTC program at CMC.
“It’s not really going to affect our operations here at all. We still look for female cadets,” Wollen said.
Fahnestock said that he also does not anticipate a drastic change in CMC’s ROTC program.
“With the exception of a couple, most of the female cadets weren’t considering combat arms, and they said this didn’t change their opinion,” Fahnestock said.
The female cadets contacted by TSL declined to comment.
Currently the ROTC program based at CMC has approximately 170 contracted cadets. Most attend CMC, but there are cadets from the other 5Cs; Azusa Pacific University; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; and Loma Linda University. Wollen said that about a quarter of the cadet core is female, with the average typically closer to 15 percent.
An army officer of almost 20 years, Wollen said he believes the change is not as drastic as some make it out to be.
“It’s a little bit of a misnomer that they removed the ban on women in combat. Women have been in combat for years. It’s just that they’re opening a few specific jobs that have been closed,” Wollen said.
Wollen said these positions include infantry, armor, and Special Forces in the Army. Fahnestock also does not think the new policy will have a large impact on the armed forces as a whole.
“I don’t really think that we’re going to notice a huge difference from the way the Army currently operates,” Fahnestock said. “I figure you have women that have already served on the front lines and have already been killed in combat. It’s really just removing a technicality more than anything else.”