If, as the Bush administration seems hellbent on doing, we go to war against Iraq, women combatants will have a higher profile than in any other hostile military action taken by the United States to date. Ponder the irony of Iraq, a largely Muslim country, having to stomach defeat at the hands of a hated enemy that has women -- Allah forbid! -- in both combat and leadership roles. The recent beating of war drums is re-awakening debate over how much of a presence women should have in military matters.
Is the increasing presence of women in the armed forces and in the U.S. military academies a good or bad thing for national defense? It's a positive to have both sexes in evidence, just like it is in anything else. Modern combat calls for intellectual skills more than for skill in wielding battleaxes. In most cases, women are as capable as men in modern combat skills.
Will putting men and women side by side complicate things -- as in sex and romance? It might at times, but sex and romance are an inescapable fact in any facet of life. Mature adults should be able to handle that in a professional manner.
Do you feel sexy whenever you're decked out in camouflage, covered with grime and lugging an M-16? I can't answer that from personal experience, but I wouldn't foresee flaming passion.
Café general manager and partner
What's your view on women in combat? I have no problem with it. Women are as capable as men of providing the resources necessary for this nation's defense. Women are entirely capable of aiming artillery or carrying out strategies.
Do you see romantic complications if growing numbers of women serve? Sexual tension is always a possibility, but it's a possibility in any sector of society, including business or anything else.
Who should clean the barracks? Both sexes are equally entitled to that duty. They should share the privilege, right?
Academy and Austin Bluffs
Pikes Peak Library District
Is there a danger that the military is becoming too feminized? I doubt it. For one thing, a woman wanting to serve in combat is probably fairly male-oriented. I also think the military still tends to choose males over females in filling combat positions. Besides, modern combat is a lot more technical than old-style combat, and nowadays intelligence is needed more than physical prowess.
Do you see romantic complications in mixing male with female combatants? I think it might enhance morale and increase closeness of the troops. Women are more communicative.