Pentagon's proposal for women in Special Operations, Columbus re - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Pentagon's proposal for women in Special Operations, Columbus residents respond

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Women may begin training as Army Rangers and Navy SEALs by 2016, according to a briefing from the Pentagon on Tuesday, June 18. This change could open up about 6,000 combat positions to women in the Army and Navy.

While many are excited for this change towards equality, some veterans and residents in Columbus say they worry about the gender-neutral tests men and women must pass to qualify for combat roles.

Keyon Jenkins, a Columbus resident, is happy for women in the Army now that they can take on leadership roles.

"Women can do what men can do, so I don't see any problem with the new change. If they can take the standard tests, then I believe that they can do it," says Jenkins.

Another Columbus resident, Jackqueline Russaw, worries about this new change.

"I don't think women should have the same standard test as men," Russaw said. "We are made more fragile, and I just don't think that's fair."

"Any person in the position has to be qualified," Jenkins explained. " So if anyone wants to be qualified, then you have to go through the special training. So it's only fair for women to go through the same training as men."

While some are in favor of the change, others argue against the Pentagon's new decision.

A few Army veterans spoke with Channel 9 wishing to remain anonymous. They explained that although they respect women, females should not join the special combat forces. They expressed that even most sturdy men have trouble completing some of the brutal tests necessary to join elite forces.

Sexual harassment is another issue the veterans spoke about. Sexual assault is already a problem in the Army, so they believe that having more women in these positions can lead to bigger problems.

Other problems they were concerned about included pregnancy, women lacking muscle mass, and having a higher risk for exercise-related injuries.

It is not clear yet exactly which positions will be open to women within the 75th Ranger Regiment, or any other specialized combat unit. The extent of their roles will be determined as research continues to develop. 

Both women advocates and the military personnel have made it clear that no one wants to lower the training standards to accommodate gender-neutrality.

Fort Benning is home to the 75th Ranger Regiment Headquarters. We have not received any official statements from them at this time.

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