At least eight female soldiers have recently been assigned to an Army field artillery unit at Ft. Bragg, marking forward progress as the U.S. military continues working towards opening up combat positions for women.
First Lt. Kelly Requa, along with at least seven other female lieutenants, was brought into the 3rd Battalion of the 321st Field Artillery Regiment last November. Requa was assigned as the platoon leader of her field artillery unit and while she’s currently the only female in her platoon, more will soon follow, Military Times reports.
The integration of females into leadership roles in all-male combat units is a source of ongoing debate, and some of the military leadership has expressed trepidation about how their presence will be accepted by their male counterparts.
“From a leadership perspective the biggest concern that we discussed was the possible misconduct,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Valeriano, the 3rd Battalion’s commander. “Introducing females into an all-male unit, at least for the initial piece of it, could lead to a spike in misconduct.”
While some of the male soldiers have voiced their concern over women’s ability to keep up physically, Valeriano says they’ve been “running circles around the men.”
“Most of the female lieutenants outrun my male lieutenants,” Valeriano said. “On overall strength, the males are stronger. But the females – endurance-wise and running – really made these guys take their game up a notch.”
Requa, who just returned from Afghanistan, noted that meeting the physical standards is one of her biggest priorities, and that that hasn’t been a problem thus far.
“They’re bigger than me,” she said of the men. “My main goal is just keeping up – meeting the standards. So, in PT, I keep up with the guys no problem. It seems to work out.”
The Army plans to add more female soldiers to the ranks of combat positions later this Spring, where women will serve as crew members that operate the artillery.
[ Military Times ]