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Female soldiers need combat training for today’s wars, says retired Air Force pilot behind Fort Worth nonprofit

By MICHAEL E. YOUNG

Even as the U.S. Department of Defense pushed hard to expand the roles of women in the American military, the one area it wouldn’t broach was placing female soldiers in combat positions.

But according to a lawsuit filed this week on behalf of four female veterans of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and echoed by a former Air Force pilot who now leads a North Texas nonprofit to help women vets, women already serve in combat roles, fighting alongside the men. They just can’t get promoted for it.

“These rules were made when warfare was linear, and that isn’t the case anymore,” said Kim Olson, who left the Air Force as a colonel and now heads Grace After Fire in Fort Worth. “These days, you get ‘in country’ and you’re in combat.”

But women don’t get the same training as men, especially the combat training, she said.

“Women aren’t trained to whip out the .50-caliber [machine gun] or to call in airstrikes,” Olson said. “If you’re going to put them in harm’s way, you have to train them. If this suit is successful, that will happen.”

 

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