Women Eyed For Iraq Combat

The unexpected realities of the war in Iraq are forcing the Pentagon to reexamine its long-standing ban on women in combat in a guerrilla war fought mainly in cities and without front lines.

As CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports, the current policy that forbids women from serving in units engaged in direct ground combat might have to be rewritten.

The issue is being brought to a head by the scheduled deployment back to Iraq of the 3rd Infantry Division, the unit that lead the original charge into Baghdad, as part of a larger effort to reorganize the Army into a more combat-ready force.

The division will for the first time have supply companies comprised of men and women directly attached to combat units.

The debate is over whether this new organization violates the letter of the law which bars women from combat. Whatever the outcome of that debate, the fact is women are already in the middle of the fighting.

Although women do not, and will not for the foreseeable future, serve as infantrymen breaking down doors and conducting house-to-house searches or as tankers blasting their way into rebel strongholds, that does not keep them out of combat.

Pvt. Jessica Lynch and the other members of her supply convoy found that out early in the war when they were ambushed by fighters from Saddam's Fedayeen.

The Army has lost nearly 800 soldiers to hostile fire in Iraq - 24 of them women.

Pamela Osborne, a mother of three, was killed in a rocket attack two weeks ago.A roadside bomb hit Jessica Cawvey's convoy. Kimberly Hampton was piloting a scout helicopter for the 82nd Airborne when she was shot down.

It may not be official yet, but women are serving in combat.
  • Jaime Holguin

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