Army Wants Women On Front Lines The Herald October 24, 2004 The U.S. Army is trying to overturn a ban on using women soldiers in forward support units in war zones to ease its growing manpower crisis in Iraq and Afghanistan. While females still would be barred from combat formations likely to experience direct contact with an enemy, planners want to deploy them alongside fighting brigades as drivers and logisticians to free up scarce male forces. A shortage of trained American infantry in Iraq prompted the request for the Black Watch to be sent north to Iskandariya to free up American marines for the assault on Falluja. Although women serve as jet, transport, and helicopter pilots, they are excluded from ground combat. There are about 200,000 females in the U.S. Army - about 17% of its total strength. About 8% of the 102,000 soldiers in the British Army are female, a proportion which has grown since roles available to them were expanded in 1998. Women represent 9.5% of officers and 6.8% of other ranks. UK servicewomen are also excluded from direct combat and submarine service. British governments have resisted changing the policy because they feared the political impact of large-scale female casualties. A Pentagon spokesman said yesterday: "The policy introduced in the U.S. in 1994 which prevented the deployment of women soldiers close to the front line no longer has a basis in reality. There are no clearly-defined front lines any more. "A high proportion of the 250 or so supply convoys which criss- cross Iraq's roads every day come under attack. Many of the vehicles have females in their crews. Bases supposedly behind the lines also come under regular mortar and rocket attack. He added: "It makes no sense to have to use male soldiers for tasks which could be done easily by their female counterparts when we are short of troops trained to close with and destroy the enemy." The U.S. Army's high command hopes to be able to persuade Congress to lift restrictions in time for the deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division to Iraq next year.