More than 130 American women in military service have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. More than 800 women have been wounded. Women make up almost 15 percent of the 1.4 million Americans on active military status and many are regularly engaged in combat activities as part of their service.
Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, said that women have proved themselves in and out of battle. In February, the Defense Department opened up more positions to women, especially for tank mechanics and field artillery radar operators. And yet, the department continues to bar women from direct combat, especially in the large Army and Marine units like infantry and special operations. It is past time to repeal this discriminatory policy.