OVER 130 women have died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and yet they were not in combat. This paradox - women fight in wars but are not assigned to fighting in wars due to the Pentagon’s exclusionary policy - is at the center of a long-simmering debate that has avoided much of the Lady Gaga-ness surrounding repeal of the military’s ban on homosexuals. But if 2011 was the year of ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell’’ prohibition, 2012 begins with hints about a significant policy transformation regarding women in combat.
Ladies, get your guns. And grenades. And possibly your gut-slitting knives. Military bureaucracy can be slow, and conservative, and even unwieldy, but it can’t defend the paradox too much longer.