Cadets and professors of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) responded to the Pentagon’s decisions to lift its ban on women in combat. The policy change was announced back on Jan. 24, but will not be enacted until 2016.
Senior Tori Charvat, Army ROTC Battalion commander, sees that the policy is a progressive move and standard of the United States military.
“The military has typically been at the forefront of change within the American population, like when African-Americans were integrated into military,” she said.
Fellow cadet at Florida International University, Commander Sergeant Major Luisa Tobon echoes Charvat.
“It could impact the private sector in terms of equality and could be something that the rest of the country follows suit in,” she said.
Besides these widespread consequences, UM ROTC cadet Adam O’Reilly said that the policy will help female cadets improve their motivation.
“Knowing that they’ll be officers and knowing that they’ll will have the same opportunities as men, will give them so much more motivation as they work their way up,” he said.
[gn_pullquote align=”left”]”The military has typically been at the forefront of change within the American population, like when African-Americans were integrated into military“The military has typically been at the forefront of change within the American population, like when African-Americans were integrated into military,” said Senior Tori Charvat, an Army ROTC Battalion commander. [/gn_pullquote]O’Reilly believes that a more diverse group in the military is beneficial because it brings different perspectives to a situation that solves problems in the field.
“Women do have certain strengths that men don’t have, and vice and versa,” Charvat said. “There are certain aspects that women could bring to a combat unit that men simply can’t.”
Sergeant First Class Jim Lanfear, who teaches military science to freshman and sophomore cadets at UM, understands those strengths from his two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
“When I was in Iraq and Afghanistan, we would sometimes take females with us because they can communicate with the local female populous, especially in the Middle East where the gender rules are much stricter,” he said.
Lanfear noted that having females actually integrated into the squad would be much more beneficial than relying on outside assets and resources.
According to USA Today, women are currently in combat situations on a regular basis, but they are just not granted the opportunity to be listed in infantry and other direct actions in Military Occupational Specialties (MOS).
Charvat, Tobon and O’Reilly find the counterargument of the policy change invalid because gender does not determine the cadet’s capability.
“I think people get confused and are being sexist when they say women can’t handle it. Well, 90 percent of men can’t handle it either,” O’Reilly said. “You’re going to have to be able to pick up 70-pound mortar shells again and again, and people say a lot of women can’t do that, well a lot of men also can’t do that.”
Not only can the policy change benefit the military as a whole, but it will also enhance opportunities for female troops in their military careers, Tobon said.
“It will open up a lot more doors that were previously closed for women in the military because promotions rely heavily on combat experience,” she said.
Lanfear, however, believes that the policy change in terms of ROTC doesn’t necessarily affect them because ROTC focuses on building a leadership core within the cadets.
“We are teaching everyone to be leaders, and leadership is one standard,” he said.
Charvat and Tobon are examples of this standard leadership. They are the leading cadets for the entire Southern Strike Battalion, which includes eights schools from the South Florida region including Florida Atlantic University, Barry University and Miami-Dade College.