Commentary > The Monitor's View
from the May 15, 2003 edition
Learning From Pfc. Lynch
Last week, President Bush brushed aside calls from some social conservatives who want to roll back a Clinton-era rule that lets women soldiers operate in combat zones. "I will take guidance from the United States military," Mr. Bush said, when asked about females on the front lines. "Our commanders will make those decisions."
With that cue from the commander in chief, the Pentagon might just decide to leave its 1994 rule as is: Women are currently not allowed in units charged with ground combat on the front lines, but they can come pretty close to it in today's no-clear-lines warfare. They can, for instance, fly as pilots over battlefields or deliver supplies to combat troops.
Leaving the rule alone after the Iraq war, however, without a thorough review, would send the wrong signal to women already in the armed services, and especially to young women inspired to join up after learning about the capture, struggles, and rescues of Pfc. Jessica Lynch and, later, Spc. Shoshana Johnson.